Portugal coach Fernando Santos has insisted the flurry of transfer activity around Europe will not affect his side’s preparation for their forthcoming matches against Gibraltar and Switzerland.
The European champions take on Gibraltar at Estadio do Bessa in Porto on Thursday in their first match since beating France to lift the Henri Delaunay trophy in Paris, before travelling to Basel to face Switzerland in their first World Cup qualifying Group B game.
Santos has gathered his squad without Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who has not played since sustaining a knee injury in the Euro 2016 final, but the Portugal coach said he has faith in the players at his disposal.
On the question of whether the closure of the transfer window on Wednesday would be a distraction for his players, Santos said defiantly: “During the European Championship, we had players who changed club and it did not affect anything.
“The players know very well what it is to separate the waters [between club and country]. I have absolute confidence in them. They know it cannot interfere at all with the work of selection.
“It has not affected us so far and will not affect us.”
Portugal will face Andorra, the Faroe Islands and Latvia in World Cup qualifiers before the end of the year, and Santos is confident that his players are in good shape for arguably their toughest game of the group against Switzerland.
Santos indicated that he would use the Gibraltar game to give certain players a final fitness test, saying: “Even though at the beginning of the season the players are at a good physical level and with high confidence, in this game with Gibraltar we will be able to give more minutes to players who need them in order to be better placed in Basel.
“Now we are in qualifying for the World Cup. We want to be first in the group and qualify as quickly as possible.”
Santos added that the game against Gibraltar in Porto would provide his players with a chance to thank supporters who travelled to Euro 2016.
He said: “We wanted to go around the whole country, but it is not possible. We will cover another part of the country and we can thank the northern part of the support given in the European Championship.”
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