Cape Town — Portugal coach Fernando Santos has hinted that Cristiano Ronaldo might not get regular game time at the World Cup in Qatar because of his poor form.
The Portuguese superstar has been in poor form lately, and has scored just three goals in all competitions for his club Manchester United.
Speaking ahead of their World Cup opener, Santos said he was under no obligation to play the 37-year-old at the tournament. Ronaldo has recently launched an all-out offensive against his club in an explosive interview with the controversial Piers Morgan.
When asked if he was forced to play the star, Santos said: "Forced? This is not about forcing me. This is not a requirement. No one is forced to do anything here.
"The question could be, you could ask me, based on what Cristiano Ronaldo did [in recent weeks on the pitch] should he start?
"This is valid for Cristiano Ronaldo and all the players who are with the national team.
"If the head coach is forced to put a player in the XI … there aren’t those things here."
His club Manchester United said in a statement this week that they would address his comments that he felt betrayed by the club and was being forced out only after establishing the full facts.
On Friday, they said they had initiated “appropriate steps” in response to Ronaldo’s interview.
“We will not be making further comment until this process reaches its conclusion,” United said.
Portugal kick off their World Cup campaign with a clash against Ghana on Thursday evening.