Portugal’s Renato Sanches will become the youngest player to start for his country in a major tournament if he is selected to face Austria on Saturday, having already broken one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s records.
Sanches was a second-half substitute in Portugal’s opening Euro 2016 clash against Iceland and became the youngest player, at 18 years and 301 days, to appear for his country in a European Championship or World Cup.
He took that distinction away from Portugal captain Ronaldo, who made his first major tournament appearance as a 19-year-old at Euro 2004.
“Everything is going well and I’m very happy to be here,’ Sanches told a news conference on Thursday.
“I know there are other midfielders that are more experienced and have been more years playing in the national team than me but I’m well and ready to play.’
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said on Wednesday that he would make two or three changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Iceland for the game against Austria, who lost their opener 2-0 to Hungary.
“It’s the coach that has the final say,’ Sanches said. ‘But as the coach said, any of the 23 players in the team can start and I feel useful to the team. If given the opportunity, I will give my all.’
Portugal, who reached the semi-finals of Euro 2012 before losing to Spain on penalties, were pre-tournament favourites to finish top of Group F.
“After the (Iceland) game we were disappointed because our aim was to win but it hasn’t affected us,’ Sanches said.
“We made mistakes and the coach already went through those with us. A game doesn’t change everything and we are now ready for our next match.”