England manager Roy Hodgson says he had been hoping to use Thursday’s friendly with Portugal as a dress rehearsal for dealing with Wales winger Gareth Bale.
But Portugal will be without Bale’s club-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been granted time off after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid.
Hodgson thought facing Ronaldo would be good preparation for facing Bale.
“We were thinking about Gareth Bale,” Hodgson said when he explained why Portugal had been chosen as opponents.
Bale, the world’s most expensive player, scored seven goals in qualifying as Wales reached a major finals for the first time in 58 years.
“Of course he [Ronaldo] has been an unbelievably influential figure for all the clubs he has played for and Portugal as well, and we were thinking that Gareth Bale is in a somewhat similar position,” Hodgson said.
“So when we thought Portugal, we were thinking not only about their technical qualities and the fact they are a very good football team, but they also have a special individual.”
Wales and England meet in Lens on 16 June in Group B, which also contains Slovakia and Russia.
“I believe now that might not be the case [that Ronaldo will play] but we’re happy with the two opponents we’ve had so far [Australia and Turkey]. They’ve certainly put us to the test,” Hodgson said.
“I’ve been able to use quite a lot of players in those two games and we expect another tough test [against Portugal].
“But if we can get through that test and come away satisfied with what we’ve done and I can be satisfied with what I’ve seen, then I’d have to say the three preparation games have served their purpose.”