Deco expects to be held in reserve

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The Independent Online

Deco Souza led Porto to victory with a match-winning performance in the final of the Champions' League but he is resigned to starting Euro 2004 on the bench.

Deco Souza led Porto to victory with a match-winning performance in the final of the Champions' League but he is resigned to starting Euro 2004 on the bench.

Luiz Felipe Scolari has played Rui Costa as his playmaking central midfielder in most of Portugal's recent friendlies and Deco does not expect the coach to have a change of heart before the hosts get the tournament underway against Greece on 12 June.

"I don't know what's in the coach's mind but from what we've seen the first choice will be Rui Costa," Deco said. "I don't think we're incompatible but we'll have to see. Whenever I've played alongside him I've felt good."

The Brazilian-born Deco was called up to the Portugal squad by Scolari, the former Brazil coach, in March 2003, a week after being granted Portuguese citizenship. That match was against Brazil and Deco crowned a spectacular debut by scoring the winner. This season he has been in excellent form for Porto and scored the second goal in their 3-0 victory over Monaco in the Champions' League final.

"I don't regret choosing to play for Portugal," Deco said. "I've always been well treated and it's a pleasure to play here. I was born in Brazil and it would be a lie to say that I'm just Portuguese now and not Brazilian but I love Portugal and I love playing for the national team."

Portugal follow up their Group A game against Greece in Porto with matches against Russia and Spain.

The Real Madrid defender Michel Salgado has been forced to pull out of Spain's squad because of a thigh injury and will be replaced by the Deportivo la Coruña full-back Joan Capdevila. The Spain coach, Inaki Saez, made the surprise decision to substitute Salgado for the left-sided Deportivo player after doctors confirmed that the Real right back would be out for up to 15 days with a torn thigh muscle.

Capdevila's club colleague Manuel Pablo was thought to be the favourite to replace Salgado, but Saez has decided to reshuffle his defence in the wake of the Real Madrid player's injury. Saez is now likely to move the Barcelona defender Carles Puyol to his favoured right-back slot and use Capdevila or the Real Madrid defender Raul Bravo on the left.

Earlier Spain's team doctor Genaro Borras confirmed that Salgado sustained the injury in training on Tuesday.

Spain play their opening match in Group A against Russia on 12 June, they face Greece four days later and then meet hosts Portugal on 20 June.

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