Portugal defender Pepe will miss their World Cup playoff semi-final against Turkey on Thursday after testing positive for COVID-19, the Portuguese Football Federation said.
The 39-year-old's absence means the former European champions will be without their two first-choice centre backs for the clash at Porto, with Ruben Dias ruled out due to a hamstring injury.
Portugal will be without these players against Turkey:-Renato Sanches
Still plenty of time left for someone else to drop out due to injury or COVID.
— Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) March 22, 2022
Head coach Fernando Santos has called up Lille defender Tiago Djalo as a replacement for Pepe.
Pepe has been ruled out for Portugal WCQ play-off after testing positive for Covid-19 ❌With Ruben Dias also out on injury, Portugal will be without their two first-choice center-backs pic.twitter.com/gVDuL96Hjn
— International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCup) March 21, 2022
The winners of the match will face either Italy or North Macedonia five days later in a game that will determine one of the last three spots left for European teams at Qatar 2022, which kicks off in November.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)