World Cup 2014

Portugal coach Bento shows the strain over Ronaldo injury fears

Coach can't hide his frustration as Real Madrid star still not able to train; others also struggling

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 10:33pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 1:12am

Cristiano Ronaldo's chances of being fit for Portugal's opening World Cup clash with Germany were thrown into further doubt after coach Paulo Bento refused to put a timeframe on his return.

Ronaldo, 29, failed once more to train with his teammates as they went through their paces ahead of a friendly with fellow World Cup qualifiers Mexico in the United States.

Portugal play the strongly fancied Germans on June 16 but, at this rate, they could be without their star player and talisman, who was already ruled out of the Mexico game due to persistent leg injuries. The Real Madrid forward has a left thigh injury and tendinitis in the knee of the same leg, and has been struggling for fitness for several weeks in the build-up to the Brazil showpiece.

Even if Ronaldo is free of injury, it looks increasingly unlikely he will be match fit.

"The situation is evolving and our expectations are evolving constantly," Bento said at the Foxborough stadium of the New England Patriots, after being asked repeatedly when Ronaldo will be fit.

"When he's ready to play is a decision that will be made just like any other player, regardless of who it is.

"I'm not at liberty to discuss at full length the situation. As soon as he is ready to train, we will make that announcement."

Growing visibly frustrated by the questioning, Bento added: "We have to prepare for Germany regardless. The decision of if he will play and when is up to me, the player and the doctors. Ronaldo is not the only good player we have."

Ronaldo, who has scored 49 goals in 110 matches for Portugal, also missed the goalless draw with Greece on Saturday in Lisbon.

Portugal, who squeezed into the World Cup via a play-off with Sweden, face a mounting injury crisis - key defender Pepe and experienced midfielder Raul Meireles are also struggling.

Real Madrid's Pepe has a left leg injury, although indications are that he will be ready.

"He had a lot of games this season and he had a good season," said Bento. "It's a question of evaluating the situation and seeing how he is, then we will decide."

Bento's frustration at the number of questions he had to field about Ronaldo's condition was patently obvious.

"Ronaldo is not the only one who is injured. We have other players with physical problems and my expectations and opinion have not changed in relation to last week.

"Every absence limits our work. We want to have everyone available but it hasn't been possible and we have to find solutions to try to get around these difficulties and look to the strengths of the players who are available."

Ronaldo is suffering from an injury to his left thigh as well as patellar tendinosis, Meireles has an injury to his left thigh and Pepe a muscle injury in his right leg.


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