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Ronaldo to make Portugal return against France, Croatia

Cristiano Ronaldo was on Thursday named in the Portugal squad to play a friendly against Andorra and Nations League matches against France and Croatia.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner tested positive for coronavirus on October 13 when with the Portugal squad, going on to miss the 3-0 victory over Sweden.

The 35-year-old finally tested negative 19 days later, returning to the pitch with a double for Juventus against Spezia in Serie A action on Sunday.

The Portugal captain also played in Juve’s 4-1 victory over Ferencvaros in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Reigning European champions Portugal take on Andorra on Wednesday before Nations League A3 matches at home against France on November 14 and away to Croatia three days later.

The main absentee from Fernando Santos’ 25-man squad is Pepe, the 37-year-old central defender is out with a foot injury.

“He’s an example for the younger ones at training, with his attitude,” Santos said of Pepe, who has just signed a contract extension until 2023 with Porto.

“It’s a shame he’s not there because normally he’s a shoo-in starter.”

Lille defender Jose Fonte, who will offer cover for the absent Pepe, and Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes are both included having recovered from Covid-19.

There are first call-ups for Wolverhampton winger Pedro Neto and Sporting Braga striker Paulinho.

Portugal are joint leaders with France of group A3, each on 10 points.

“The goal will be to once again qualify for the Nations League final four and defend the trophy we won last year,” said Santos.

A secondary objective was to “also have a look at some players who have the quality to represent this team”, the coach added.

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