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Scolari selects Benfica youngster

SL Benfica teenager Manuel Fernandes has been named in the Portugal squad to face the Republic of Ireland.

Deserved opportunity
Manuel Fernandes, who turns 19 on Saturday, has impressed in his first season as a regular in the Benfica side and Scolari said of him: "Manuel Fernandes deserves this opportunity for what he has been doing at Benfica. This is an excellent chance for those players who are not used to being in the first team."

Viana recalled
Besides Manuel Fernandes' inclusion, there are recalls for Sporting Clube de Portugal midfield player Hugo Viana as well as the VfB Stuttgart defensive midfield player Fernando Meira and Vitória SC left-back Rogério Matias. However, the injured Miguel and Ricardo Carvalho have joined a list of absentees that also includes Jorge Ribeiro, Maniche, Hélder Postiga and Hugo Almeida.

Slovakia test
Portugal face Slovakia in their next FIFA World Cup qualifier on 30 March and Scolari said of the forthcoming friendly: "It will be a hard and competitive match like the one we will have against Slovakia." Portugal are currently top of qualifying Group 3 with 13 points from five matches, with Slovakia three points behind in second place.

Portugal squad
Quim (SL Benfica), Ricardo (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Jorge Andrade (RC Deportivo La Coruña), Caneira (Valencia CF), Rogério Matias (Vitória SC), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea FC), Fernando Meira (VfB Stuttgart), Manuel Fernandes (SL Benfica), Petit (SL Benfica), Hugo Viana (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Tiago (Chelsea FC), Deco (FC Barcelona), Costinha (FC Porto), Nuno Gomes (SL Benfica), Simão (SL Benfica), Boa Morte (Fulham FC), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United FC), Pauleta (Paris Saint-Germain FC).