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Sep 5, 2012

Portugal declares Ronaldo fit for practice

Cristiano Ronaldo, who's at the center of a media firestorm following his statement about "feeling sad", will return to training and the federation is fully confident he will play for Portugal in its World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg on Friday.

Ronaldo has been nursing a nagging knee injury since leaving the field grimacing and favoring his left leg in last weekend's club action. He scored twice in a 3-0 Real Madrid win against Granada in the Spanish league and uncharacteristically chose not to celebrate his goals.

Portugal's football federation said he's been cleared fit to practice and will rejoin his national team compatriots Thursday in preparation for this week's qualifiers against Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

"He can participate without limitations in Thursday's training session in [team base] Obidos," the statement said, adding that Ronaldo will continue to receive treatment on his sore left knee on Thursday.

The 27-year-old forward has received plenty of attention since cryptically revealing that professional reasons had made him unhappy at Real Madrid.

Yesterday, he denied it's because of money as he committed himself to the Spanish club on Tuesday.

"That I am feeling sad and have expressed this sadness has created a huge stir. I am accused of wanting more money, but one day it will be shown that this is not the case," Ronaldo said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said he spoke with Ronaldo Monday and told him he "is a highly valued player and needs to feel loved."

Mourinho said he is sensitive to Ronaldo's concerns and that his star player has plenty of unwavering support within and without the Madrid organization.

Ronaldo "needs to know for sure that we are here to listen to him and to help him," Mourinho told Spanish newspaper Marca. He "is an absolutely important player."

The Madrid coach's call of support comes after Spanish media has speculated whether Ronaldo's behavior has been part of a contract ploy, a problem with teammates or sour grapes after losing the UEFA award as Best Player in Europe to Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta on Friday.

Madrid goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas said that Ronaldo has the prerogative like anyone else to feel the blues.

"I understand that for most people it's difficult to understand the life we live as footballers," news agency Efe quoted Casillas as saying. "But we're people too and like all we have our issues. We have friends, family and all that is stuff of everyday life."

Ronaldo joined Madrid from Manchester United for $131 million in 2009, signing a contract that ties him to the club until 2015.

Information from Press Association, news agency Efe and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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