Quick Bit: Cristiano Ronaldo’s club career is in flux after he parted company with Manchester United. But he remains Portugal’s main man for their World Cup bid in Qatar.

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Portugal are ready to finally let their football do the talking at the 2022 World Cup.

If veteran head coach Fernando Santos had his way that would always have been the case, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive exit from Manchester United has dominated the conversation around the Selecao.

“It hasn’t even been discussed,” Santos told his pre-match news conference for Thursday’s Group H opener against Ghana.

“The conversation hasn’t come up at any moment, not only from him. If the players are talking about that in their rooms alone, I can’t say. They can do what they want, but the important thing is they are absolutely focused and realistic about the challenges they are facing.”

Ronaldo is short of match time and must now try to find his best form alongside a talent-stacked supporting cast as the five-time Ballon d’Or winner takes a final shot at World Cup glory.

Portugal must also do battle with Uruguay and South Korea in a tricky group. This is how their latest team news is shaping up.

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Portugal projected lineup vs Ghana

(4-1-4-1, right to left): 22. Costa (GK) — 2. Dalot, 3. Pepe, 4. Dias, 20. Cancelo — 14. Carvalho — 11. Joao Felix, 8. Fernandes, 10. Bernardo Silva, 15. Leao — 7. Ronaldo

Injured: Nuno Mendes (knock)
Suspended: none

Santos faces a bit of a coin toss for his starting goalkeeper and Porto’s Diogo Costa might get the nod over long-serving No 1 Rui Patricio. In veteran defender Pepe and Ronaldo, the Portugal XI is still likely to boast a couple of cap centurions.

According to Portuguese sports paper Record, Santos is toying with the idea of fielding the attacking midfield quartet of Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and Rafael Leao behind Ronaldo, possibly to try and tap into some of the swashbuckling quality on show during their 4-0 warmup win over Nigeria, which Portugal’s captain missed through illness.

Ronaldo is fit to play, but Paris Saint-Germain’s Nuno Mendes is a doubt. If he doesn’t make it, expect Joao Cancelo to start at left-back, with Diogo Dalot in the other full-back position.

MORE: World Cup 2022 top goal scorer: Updated rankings in the Golden Boot race

Portugal World Cup squad

Here are the 26 names on Portugal’s World Cup squad in Qatar:

Position
Player
Club
Age
Caps
Goalkeeper
Rui Patricio
Roma (ITA)
34
104
Goalkeeper
Jose Sa
Wolves (ENG)
29
0
Goalkeeper
Diogo Costa
Porto (POR)
23
7
Defender
Pepe
Porto (POR)
39
128
Defender
Raphael Guerreiro
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
28
56
Defender
Diogo Dalot
Manchester United (ENG)
23
6
Defender
Antonio Silva
Benfica (POR)
19
0
Defender
Ruben Dias
Manchester City (ENG)
25
39
Defender
Nuno Mendes
PSG (FRA)
20
16
Defender
Danilo Pereira
PSG (FRA)
31
63
Defender
Joao Cancelo
Manchester City (ENG)
28
37
Midfielder
Otavio
Porto (POR)
27
7
Midfielder
Joao Palhinha
Fulham (ENG)
27
15
Midfielder
Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United (ENG)
28
48
Midfielder
Bernardo Silva
Manchester City (ENG)
28
72
Midfielder
Matheus Nunes
Wolves (ENG)
24
9
Midfielder
William Carvalho
Real Betis (ESP)
30
75
Midfielder
Vitinha
PSG (FRA)
22
4
Midfielder
Joao Mario
Benfica (POR)
29
52
Midfielder
Ruben Neves
Wolves (ENG)
25
32
Forward
Cristiano Ronaldo
Manchester United (ENG)
37
191
Forward
Ricardo Horta
Braga (POR)
28
5
Forward
Rafael Leao
AC Milan (ITA)
23
11
Forward
Joao Felix
Atletico Madrid (SPA)
22
23
Forward
Goncalo Ramos
Benfica (POR)
21
0
Forward
Andre Silva
RB Leipzig (GER)
26
51

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