LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Nani has been included in Portugal's World Cup squad despite an injury-hit season during which he made just 13 appearances for Manchester United.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento on Monday announced the 23-man squad he will take to Brazil, with the main surprise being the choice of Braga midfielder Rafa, who has just one cap.
Nani has had a disappointing year due to injuries and poor form, but Bento said the 27-year-old winger has shaken off the injuries that helped keep him sidelined.
"Nani had a problem up until March but he's improved and he's been training normally since then," Bento said.
He said he picked the 21-year-old Rafa because he can play either in midfield or attack. Rafa has previously played half a friendly game against Cameroon.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has recently had injury problems at Real Madrid, will be assessed by the Portuguese medical team after Saturday's Champions League final against Atletico Madrid in Lisbon, Bento said.
"We will work out a plan to get him ready in time for the World Cup," Bento said.
Midfielder William Carvalho, regarded as one of Portugal's promising newcomers, was also included. Like Ronaldo and Nani, Carvalho is a product of Sporting Lisbon's youth academy. He has made two appearances for Portugal
Most of the squad was due to gather Wednesday. Portugal is to play three warm-up games before starting the tournament in Group G against Germany, Ghana and the United States.
Goalkeepers: Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Braga), Rui Patrício (Sporting).
Defenders: Andre Almeida (Benfica), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Valencia), Neto (Zenit St. Petersburg), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia).
Midfielders: Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Ruben Amorim (Benfica), William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Rafa (Braga).
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eder (Braga), Helder Postiga (Lazio), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Nani (Manchester United), Varela (FC Porto), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg).