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By ESPN Staff

Ronaldo happy to sit on the bench for Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Ronaldo said on Sunday that he would be happy to sit on the bench if he is recalled by Brazil and hit back at criticism of his performances at the World Cup.

The Real Madrid striker, who kept his place in the team at the World Cup despite widespread calls for him to be dropped, added that he had always been picked on merit, not on his name.

'My future in the team will always depend on the coach,' he said in an interview with Globo television.

'If I deserve to be there, I'm sure he will pick me and I will play with pride and pleasure.

'I never wanted a guaranteed place in the team, I always wanted to win my place. If I won my place at someone else's expense, it was because I played better and scored more goals, not because I did something underhand.'

Asked if he would accept a place on the subsitutes' bench, Ronaldo said: 'Yes, I would accept it, certainly. Nobody has, nor has ever had, a guaranteed place.

'All the great players have sat on the bench and this doesn't diminish anyone.'

Ronaldo, who will be 30 this month, underwent a minor operation to clean up his left knee after the World Cup and has yet to play this season for either Brazil or his club.

Ronaldo, one of the most heavily criticised players at the World Cup when Brazil bowed out to France in the quarter-finals, also replied to suggestions that he was overweight during the tournament.

'It's simple,' he said. 'I got injured with five matches of the domestic season to go. I underwent treatment but I couldn't run.

'When I reported for the national team, I was cured but I hadn't trained.'

He added: 'An exaggerated optimism was created. It was certainly a failure and we all accept our blame for that.

'But it was nothing more than that. It wasn't a lack of effort, like I've heard people saying. That's an injustice.'

Roanldo said he was confident of regaining his place in the Real Madrid team.

'I made a bet with Roberto Carlos and the president of the club that I would score 30 goals this season and I expect to win,' he said.