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World Cup qualifier Group 3

Euro 2004 Finalists Portugal will be without defender Miguel Monteiro for their opening World cup qualifier against Latvia on Saturday.

Monteiro sprained an ankle playing for Benfica’ in their 3-2 victory at Beira Mat in the opening game of the Portuguese season last Sunday.

It is hoped however that he will be fit for Portugal’s second qualifier against Estonia in Leira 4 days later.

Coach Luis Felipe Scholari could be on a collision course with Manchester United, after the Brazilian named United’s 18-year-old winger Christiano Ronaldo in his squad.

The Premiership club are increasingly concerned that Roanldo may need a hernia operation if he plays for Portugal on Saturday.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has even sent assistant coach Carlos Queiroz and club doctor Mike Stone to Lisbon, to plead with Scholari not to include Ronaldo in his plans.

“We have a duty to defend our players’ interests and a moral responsibility to millions of fans,” Queiroz said.

“Clinically, we can’t say he is unable to play but Ronaldo has been complaining about some discomfort and he has a problem we know could develop into something significant if we are not careful,” he told the Daily Express.

Latvia meanwhile, fresh from their first ever appearance at a major finals, will be hoping for an improved performance on their last world cup campaign, where they won just one game on the way to finishing fourth in their group.

Alexsandres Starkovs side are without Southampton’s Marian Parhars, who has been plagued by injuries over the last two years.

“Everyone is healthy and in good shape, except for Pahars who has a small injury,” said Starkovs, who is joining Spartak Moscow early next month but will stay in charge of Latvia for at least their opening five World Cup qualifiers.

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