Portugal boss Fernando Santos admits he has been left baffled by the rib injury sustained by Danilo Pereira in training ahead of Monday’s World Cup clash with Uruguay.
A statement on the Portuguese Football Federation’s official website on Saturday said the Paris St Germain player was unavailable having “suffered a fracture of three costal arches”.
Santos told a press conference on Sunday: “That’s a type of injury that no-one can explain. We do not understand how that could have happened.
“It’s normal that these type of injuries happen, but we did not see how it happened exactly.
“Initially we did not think it was very serious, because we made a few exams to see if he was breathing properly and apparently that was the case, but afterwards we see that it was more serious than we expected. But we are following it up.
“I’m not a medical doctor, I cannot talk about that in detail. But as far as I know he is evolving positively and we expect to have him very soon in the field of play – but in case we cannot, we have three other players who can replace him. So we do not need to make any drama.
“We are very sad because of his injury. Now we’re thinking about his health and I think above all we need to think about a player as a human being.
“He’s someone with a very positive energy and I’m sure he’ll be sending good vibes our way.”
Pereira’s team-mate Bernardo Silva said: “We’re very sad for him, but it also is an additional driver for all the team-mates to play to win and to be able to dedicate this win against Uruguay to Danilo, because not only is he a great player but he’s a fantastic person and a player we’d really like to have on the pitch with us.”
Portugal are looking to extend a winning start in Group H after opening their campaign by beating Ghana 3-2 on Thursday, a match which included a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo that made him the first player in the men’s game to score at five World Cups.
Uruguay’s opener saw them draw 0-0 with South Korea, and boss Diego Alonso said: “We would have loved to win in the first match, that’s for sure, but we cannot underestimate the opponent, we cannot underestimate the result we had either.
“We are here to win games, that’s our ultimate goal, and we want to give our best. But at the same time we know in a competition it is difficult, that you need to bring your best and sometimes even if you perform well (or not), anything can happen.
“Of course Portugal have a very good squad, excellent players, a wonderful coach with wide experience. They’re a dangerous team. But on the other hand we also have our own arguments, our own weapons. We will try to win. We will bring our ‘A’ game. Lets see what happens.”
Uruguay, under Alonso’s predecessor Oscar Tabarez, beat Portugal 2-1 in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup – Alonso stressed when asked about that that “all matches are different”. Portugal are currently ninth in the world rankings, while Uruguay are 14th.