Portugal boss raises Cristiano Ronaldo concern after being rested by Man Utd

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos insists Cristiano Ronaldo needs playing time after he was dropped by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for Manchester United’s draw with Everton last weekend.

Ronaldo surprisingly started on the bench at Old Trafford but came on in the second half as the game ended 1-1.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was criticised for the decision, while former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was caught telling ex-UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov that he felt the call to drop Ronaldo gave Everton a boost.

Ronaldo has linked up with the Portugal squad this week as they prepare to play Qatar in a friendly on Saturday before their World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg next Tuesday.

The 36-year-old is now chasing the record of coming the most-capped player at international level. The United forward currently has 180 caps for Portugal and is closing in on Soh Chin Ann’s official total of 195 for Malaysia.

But Santos has dismissed the suggestion that Ronaldo will be played against Qatar to help his pursuit of the record and insists the forward needs minutes after he was rested by Solskjaer.

‘Thinking about the game against Qatar is not about records, he will always beat that record. He’s not worried about it,’ Santos said on Friday.

‘He will go to the game because he needs playing time. It’s important to him at this stage.

‘The last full game he played was in the Champions League.

‘If he only plays against Luxembourg, he will have practically 15 days without playing with intensity.

‘At this point I will say that there are strong possibilities of Ronaldo going to the game against Qatar, either starting or coming on later during the second half, so that the competitive rhythms are at their maximum against Luxembourg.’

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