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Fernando Santos stresses Cristiano Ronaldo 'needs playing time'

Ali Shibil Roshan
Fernando Santos has stressed the need for playing minutes for Cristiano Ronaldo
Fernando Santos has stressed the need for playing minutes for Cristiano Ronaldo / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has stressed Cristiano Ronaldo 'needs playing time', all but confirming the Manchester United superstar will feature against Qatar.

Ronaldo, who has been impressive for Man Utd since sealing his return to Old Trafford in the summer, was dropped to the bench in Red Devils' Premier League clash with Everton - a decision that was criticised by many, including Sir Alex Ferguson. The Portuguese attacker, however, came on in the second-half, but could not inspire his side to victory as the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

The 36-year-old is currently with Portugal national team, for whom he has 180 caps, which is 15 short of Soh Chin Ann's tally for Malaysia - the most-capped player at international level.

Speaking on Friday, Santos rubbished suggestions Ronaldo will be fielded against Qatar to help his pursuit of that record and stressed the need for playing minutes.

"Thinking about the game against Qatar is not about records, he will always beat that record. He’s not worried about it,’ Santos said [via Metro].

"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."