Soccer

Nani set to return for Portugal against NIreland

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LISBON, Portugal (AP)

Portugal's attacking midfield lineup for next week's game against Northern Ireland will be strengthened by the return from injury of Nani, Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento kept faith with his regular players when he announced his 23-man squad Thursday for the Sept. 6 World Cup qualifier in Belfast.

FC Porto midfielder Josue Pesqueira is the only uncapped member of the squad.

Portugal leads Group F with 14 points from seven games, two more than second-place Russia. The Russians, however, have a game in hand.

After surprise draws against Northern Ireland and in Israel, Portugal needs all nine points from its last three games to keep alive its hopes of qualifying for the tournament, possibly as a second-place team in the playoffs.

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Portugal:

Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Eduardo (Braga), Beto (Sevilla)

Defenders: Joao Pereira (Valencia), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Luis Neto (Zenit St. Petersburg), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Antunes (Malaga), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Pepe (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Josue Pesqueira (FC Porto), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Ruben Amorim (Benfica), Ruben Micael (Braga), Andre Martins (Sporting)

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Helder Postiga (Valencia), Danny (Zenit St. Petersburg), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Nani (Manchester United), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas)

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