Portugal’s Euro 2020 preparations have suffered a blow after Man City defender Joao Cancelo tested positive for Covid-19.
Portugal occupy the hardest group on paper, sharing a berth with Germany, France and Hungary. Despite the four highest ranked third-placed teams qualifying for the knockout stages, it is not inconceivable that one of the heavyweights could fail to qualify in such a fierce group.
As such, the last thing Portugal wanted was late disruption, though that is exactly what they now have.
Cancelo has been placed in isolation and Portugal coach Fernando Santos has replaced the 27-year-old with Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot for the European champions’ first game in Budapest on Tuesday.
Dalot spent last season on loan at AC Milan and was part of the Portugal side beaten in the European Championship Under-21 final by Germany last week.
“The AC Milan player will replace Joao Cancelo, who tested positive for Covid-19 following a quick test of the antigen carried out this Saturday by the health and performance unit of the FPF,” read a statement from the Portuguese Football Federation.
“The Hungarian health authorities were immediately informed and the player – who is fine – was placed in isolation.
“The result of the test carried out by the health and performance unit was confirmed by an RT-PCR test carried out on Joao Cancelo also on Saturday and the result of which was known on Sunday morning.
“In accordance with the Covid-19 protocol defined by UEFA before the matches of Euro 2020, on Saturday all players and members of the entourage were subjected to RT-PCR tests.
“The results, with the exception of João Cancelo, were negative.
“The Hungarian health authorities have become aware of compliance with the protection procedures, fully respected according to the UEFA protocol, in a group that also has a high rate of vaccination coverage and have authorized the national team to respect the plan stipulated for the European Championship without any changes.”
Cancelo came into Euro 2020 on the back of an impressive season in Manchester, making 43 appearances as Pep Guardiola’s side completed a Premier League and Carabao Cup double and reached the final of the Champions League.