Southampton defender finally earns first international call-up after great start to season

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Southampton centre back Jose Fonte has been rewarded for his great performances for the Saints with his first international call-up for Portugal.

Southampton had their team torn apart this summer, with manager Mauricio Pochettino moving on to Tottenham Hotspur, whilst key players such as Calum Chambers, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert all moved on for big transfer fees after a successful season last term.

However, new manager Ronald Koeman has led the Saints to an outstanding start to the season, with four wins from six games taking them to second place, just three points behind leaders Chelsea. New signings such as Fraser Forster, Ryan Bertrand, Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle have made a big impact so far, but one existing member of the side continues to impress.

Centre back Jose Fonte joined the club back in January 2010, meaning he has now been with the club in League One, The Championship and the Premier League, becoming a key part of their recent success since his £1.2m move from Crystal Palace.

The 30-year-old continues to be a consistent performer for Southampton, but one thing has always eluded him - a call-up for Portugal. Born in Penafiel, Fonte started his career Sporting Lisbon before moves to Felgueiras, Vitoria Setubal, Benfica, Pacos Ferreira and Estrela Amadora as he failed to really establish himself in his homeland.

After being so consistent for Southampton, it's always been a point of confusion for Saints fans as to why Fonte continues to be ignored by Portugal for international recognition. They do have a number of ageing centre backs in Pepe, Bruno Alves and Ricardo Costa at their disposal, but none were impressive at the World Cup as Paulo Bento's side crashed out in the group stage of the competition.

Bento has since been sacked after losing 1-0 to Albania in the European Championship qualifiers, with former Greece boss Fernando Santos now in charge. With fixtures against France and Denmark on the horizon, Santos has named a preliminary 40-man squad - and Fonte has finally got himself on the list, though he will have to make it through a number of cuts to be in with a chance of earning his first cap.

"For the first time, I'm pre-summoned," said Fonte. "It is not definitive, but it is a first step."

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