Potential Portugal squad for the upcoming Euro qualifiers
We are once again approaching international football time. With the Euro qualifiers coming back next month, it's time to review what Portugal's next squad could look like.
Rui Patricio - The Wolves shot-stopper remains Portugal's number one goalkeeper, particularly with Anthony Lopes temporarily hanging up his gloves for the national team. His inclusion is a forgone conclusion.
Beto - Anothr player that will undoubtedly make the cut, with the experienced goalkeeper now Portugal's undisputed second choice in the absence of Lyon's Lopes.
Claudio Ramos - he's been included in the past 3 Portugal squads - and with a lack of significant depth in the goalkeeping department for the Seleção, the lesser-known Tondela goalkeeper will very probably be involved yet again - and on merit.
João Cancelo - Onto the defence, and João Cancelo, for his pace, skill and defensive ability, has made the right back position his own for Portugal. He'll get a call-up - and will play a significant role.
Nelson Semedo - Nelson has continued to develop superbly at Barcelona, continuing to demonstrate his attacking prowess from his deep starting position while also improving his defensive game and general physicality. Used at left back on occasion as well, his versatility has been on show too, and he will very possibly get called up to the next squad ahead of both Ricardo Pereira and Cedric Soares - but it is close.
Raphael Guerreiro - The Borussia Dortmund man has been sensational this season when not forced to the sidelines due to injury. Frequently used much further forwards than the left back position we've become accustomed to seeing him play in with the national side, Guerreiro has picked up both goals and assists for the Germans, both in the league and the Champions League. He will get called up. Whether Fernando Santos will utilise him at left back, though, is less certain.
Mario Rui - The Napoli man has continued to play quite regularly for the Italian giants in recent weeks, and with the left back position somewhat lacking in significant depth, you can be very confident that the 8-time international will yet again be included in the Seleção.
Pepe - Pepe's move to Porto has only further increased his prospects of continuing to play for the national team. Constantly in the spotlight, the adopted Portuguese legend is a necessity in Portugal's back line.
Ruben Dias - The Benfica centreback is by now forging a strong partnership with the far more experienced Pepe, and the 21-year old will continue to be selected for his country - and will play.
Jose Fonte - It is a virtual crime not to include the Portuguese veteran in the next Portugal squad. The former Southampton man has been stunning since joining Lille in the summer, his leadership on and off the pitch crucial in helping Lille obtain 2nd in Ligue 1. He still has so much to offer.
Daniel Carriço - Sevilla vice-captain, very experienced, and yet has just 1 senior international cap to his name. Carriço's injury troubles are well-known, but having played regularly this season for his club, who sit 4th in the Spanish top flight, his inclusion in the Portugal squad could very well be on the cards.
Ruben Neves - The Wolves midfielder has become an integral part of how Portugal function. His role in providing additional cover for William Carvalho to roam forwards has been pivotal in Portugal's recent good form in Ronaldo's absence. The deep-lying playmaker is assured of a spot in Santos' team.
William Carvalho - After Ronaldo, Pepe and Bernardo Silva, very probably Portugal's most valuable asset due to his ability to provide defensive cover, as well as stride forwards with such grace and purpose. Rarely, if ever, loses the ball, when running or passing. Guaranteed starter.
Danilo Pereira - How Portugal are blessed with 'defensive' midfielders. Danilo Pereira would be an assured starter in most national teams, one of the most well-rounded defensive midfielders you could ask for. But with William and Neves sharing his nationality, a spot on the bench is more likely for the Porto star. What a backup to have though.
João Moutinho - It's one of the big questions on Seleção fans' minds: is João Moutinho still part of Fernando Santos' plans? If recent form is anything to go by, you'd say surely yes. The Portuguese legend hasn't been included in Portugal's last few squads since a disappointing World Cup campaign, but he still has much to offer.
Pizzi - In that last outing against Nacional when Benfica stormed to the most surreal of victories, Pizzi contributed 4 assists and a goal to the cause. That in itself could be enough to merit inclusion in the Portugal squad, but the central midfielder just seems to perform to the highest of standards week upon week.
Bruno Fernandes - You can't envy Fernando Santos. How do you choose just six central midfielders from a list of about 10 top-quality options? Choosing Bruno Fernandes in the last spot means leaving out Renato Sanches, Andre Gomes, João Mario and Gedson, but Bruno Fernandes is a necessity. The top scoring midfielder in all of European football, the Sporting man is a star to watch out for.
João Felix - Genuinely running out of superlatives for this boy. What more needs to be said about this sensational shadow striker? The teenager has to be fast-tracked to the senior national team. And fast. There's a reason he's valued at 120 million euros - and that teams are actually considering paying it.
Bernardo Silva - he's really become one of Manchester City's most important players this season. In a season of chopping and changing from manager Pep Guardiola, Bernardo seems to escape rotation more than most, and his feet do all the talking. A true entertainer.
Rony Lopes - Rony is back from injury - and Monaco are now starting to pick up some decent results. Whether that's just a coincidence is certainly debatable, although what is for sure is that the Monaco man oozes class, and deserves to be back in the fold at international level.
Cristiano Ronaldo - The machine. 6 games, 7 goals, 3 assists. Absurd. The best. Of course he'll return to the team.
Andre Silva - he may have gone off the boil with Sevilla, but the Portuguese striker has a terrific record for his country, and still remains a crucial part of the Portugal national team.
Rafael Leão - We've said all that needs to be said on Leão now. He's not being compared to Mbappe for no reason. It's been a remarkable few weeks for the former Sporting youngster, and he's another that deserves to be fast-tracked to the senior national team.
XI: Rui Patricio; João Cancelo, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro; Ruben Neves, William Carvalho; Bernardo Silva, João Felix, Cristiano Ronaldo; Rafael Leão.