LISBON, Portugal — Cristiano Ronaldo is unfit and will miss Portugal's opening 2016 European Championship qualifier against visiting Albania.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento said Friday that the country's star forward, who has been playing for Real Madrid at the start of the Spanish league season, was ruled unfit to play in the Sept. 7 match by the Portuguese Football Federation's medical department.
"Regardless of whether he has been playing more or less regularly, at the moment he can't play," Bento told a news conference. He did not elaborate.
Ronaldo's absence renewed speculation about the seriousness of a left-leg injury that hindered him at the World Cup in Brazil. Ronaldo initially said he was fit at that tournament but later conceded he was playing at less than 100 percent as Portugal made a disappointing first-round exit.
The 24-man squad features four players who earned their first call-up as Bento said he was aiming for a "gradual renewal" of his team.
Defender Ruben Vezo, midfielders Adrien Silva and Pedro Tiba, and strikers Ricardo Horta and Bruma will be seeking their first cap.
Defenders: Joao Pereira (Valencia), Ruben Vezo (Valencia), Andre Almeida (Benfica), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Pepe (Real Madrid), Antunes (Malaga), Ricardo Costa (Al-Sailiya), Neto (Zenit St. Petersburg).
Midfielders: William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Adrien Silva (Sporting Lisbon), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Andre Gomes (Valencia), Pedro Tiba (Braga).