With Wolves preparing to take on Manchester United in the quarter-final of the FA Cup at Molineux this evening, it was good news off the pitch yesterday, as four members of Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad were announced in the latest Portugal squad.
Regular internationals Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves have been joined by Diogo Jota for his first senior call up ahead of Portugal’s Euro 2020 qualification matches against Ukraine and Serbia.
During his pre-match press conference, Nuno – a former Portugal international himself – spoke about how important it is for a footballer to represent their country, the recent incidents of fans encroaching the pitch, as well as how Wolves’ preparations have gone in the lead up to tonight’s match against the Red Devils.
On Jota’s Portugal call up
“We’re very happy for him that he goes to his national team. It’s a good reward and we hope everything goes well, not only for Diogo, but we’ve got a lot of players who are going to be involved in their national teams.
“I’m always very supportive and very happy. It means a lot for us that our players go to their national teams and they play, represent their country. There’s nothing stronger than representing your country in football and I hope everything goes okay.”
On fans encroaching the pitch
“I don’t think it’s different [in England]. It can happen in any stadium around the world and when it happens we have to make the right decisions. If you ask me – ban – I don’t want these people in the stadium again.
“There are no explanations to these kinds of behaviours.”
On Ruddy’s FA Cup return
“John is going back in goal. I think he’s ready to play. He’s a good option and I hope it works out well. Rui doesn’t miss out on anything. It’s something we decided at the start of the competition.
“The first game in the competition we made this decision, and nothing has changed. If we go on, we will keep the same.”
On results against the ‘big six’
“We’ve had some good moments and the most difficult thing is to sustain and be able to keep on performing well. Consistency is one of the most difficult things in football.
“What we did against other teams doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean anything extra. You have to always be ready to compete.
“It’s a different competition. We know how hard it’s going to be, because both teams want the same goal. But we have to be ready to play against Manchester United.
“We have a good chance to compete in the game. What’s going to happen after, we don’t know. The best way for us to be is ready to compete and play the game against a very tough team.”
On preparing for United
“It’s the oldest competition. Everybody is aware of what it means. For us and for all the clubs, all the professionals, but first we have to play tomorrow. Nothing can distract us.
“It’s a big game, but our approach doesn’t change. If you ask me if there is a change in the players? No. We will focus as always and prepare well.
“We don’t know if we’ll have less of the ball, but we were are is prepared to play, knowing that we have to defend very hard, very compact, organised and then when we have the ball try to put our talent and organisation in the pitch.
“Prepare yourself, try to make your ideas stronger on the pitch, and play the game.”