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Nani picked for Portugal’s World Cup roster

May 19, 2014

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Nani was included in Portugal’s World Cup roster Monday despite an injury filled season that included just 13 appearances for Manchester United.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento on Monday announced 23 players he will take to Brazil. The main surprise was the inclusion of Braga midfielder Rafa, who has just one international appearance.

Bento said Nani, a 27-year-old winger, has gotten over his injuries.

“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 made his debut in a March exhibition against Cameroon.

Cristiano Ronaldo, slowed by leg problems in the last month 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 players were due to gather Wednesday. Portugal hosts Morocco in an exhibition on May 24, then plays Mexico at Foxborough, Massachusetts, on June 6 and Ireland on June 10 at East Rutherford, New Jersey. At the World Cup, the Portuguese play Germany, the United States and Ghana in the first round.

The roster:

Goalleepers: Beto (Sevilla, Spain), Eduardo (Braga), Rui Patrício (Sporting Lisbon)

Defenders: Andre Almeida (Benfica), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid, Spain), Ricardo Costa (Valencia, Spain), Neto (Zenit St. Petersburg, Russia), Pepe (Real Madrid, Spain), Joao Pereira (Valencia, Spain)

Midfielders: Ruben Amorim (Benfica, Portugal), William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Rafa (Braga), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev, Ukraine)

Forwards: Hugo Almeida (Besiktas, Turkey), Eder (Braga), Helder Postiga (Lazio, Italy), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Spain), Nani (Manchester United, England), Varela (Porto), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg, Germany)