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May 11, 2010

Portugal include Pepe in squad

Pepe has been included in Portugal's provisional 24-man squad ahead of the World Cup, despite having been sidelined by a knee injury since December.

GettyImages / Jose JordanPepe hasn't played this year because of a knee injury

The Real Madrid defender has only just returned to training after five months out of action, however, he was a stand-out in a scrappy Portuguese qualifying campaign to ensure his place.

Coach Carlos Queiroz had previously indicated he would name his 23-man squad for the finals, but chose to add another name to his selection after admitting he had "one or two'' doubts about the fitness of certain players.

"Things can happen at a training camp and we want to be sure the ones we take are in the best shape,'' the former Real Madrid boss said. "The World Cup will take place when players are usually on holiday, it will be important to prepare them correctly so they can contribute as best as possible.''

The biggest surprise of the squad was the inclusion of back-up goalkeepers Beto and Daniel Fernandes who did not play during qualifying. Portugal reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Germany four years ago, but face a difficult task to get out of their group in South Africa after being draw against Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea.

Portugal's provisional 24-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Beto (Porto), Daniel Fernandes (Iraklis), Eduardo (Braga)

Defenders: Fabio Coentrao (Benfica), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Ze Castro (Deportivo La Coruna), Bruno Alves (Porto), Rolando (Porto), Ricardo Costa (Lille), Duda (Malaga), Pepe (Real Madrid), Miguel (Valencia)

Midfielders: Tiago (Atletico Madrid), Deco (Chelsea), Raul Meireles (Porto), Nani (Manchester United), Miguel Veloso (Sporting Lisbon), Pedro Mendes (Sporting Lisbon)

Forwards: Simao Sabrosa (Atletico Madrid), Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen), Liedson (Sporting Lisbon), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Danny (Zenit St Petersburg).