Neymar working ’24 hours a day’ to return at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Neymar is working “24 hours a day” to try to recover from an ankle injury and play again at the World CupBrazil teammate Marquinhos said on Sunday.

Neymar damaged ligaments in his right ankle in the team’s first 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday and will miss the game against Switzerland on Monday. He was still expected to recover, but team doctors still have not given a timetable for his return, nor have they said if he will return at all.

“He’s in physio 24 hours a day,” Marquinhos said. “It shows how much he wants to come back to us. We don’t know when that will happen, but we hope he will be back with us as soon as possible and in good mental and physical health.

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Brazil coach Tite said he had to “force” Neymar and right-back Danilo, who is also injured, to skip treatment on Sunday and join his team-mates in their final training session before the game against Switzerland. Tite said after the match against Serbia that Neymar was in physiotherapy until five or six in the morning.

Neymar announced on Instagram on Saturday that he was “confident” that he would “have a chance to come back.” He posted photos of his ankle still looking very swollen.

Marquinhos said Neymar felt down after the injury but became more optimistic.

“I see him very well and I am sure of his return,” the defender said before the match against Switzerland. “He’s very focused on getting back.”

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Tite remained optimistic about the return of both Neymar and Danilo, who sprained his ankle against Serbia.

“I’m not a doctor, I’m not an expert,” Tite said. “But I still believe that Neymar and Danilo will play in the World Cup. I think we will still be able to use them.

Tite has many options Instead of Neymar, but admitted that it is difficult to replace the talent of a player like him.

“These big talents can come up two or three times and make a difference,” Tite said. “And that’s what Neymar can do for us.”

The coach did not say who will replace Neymar or Danilo in the starting line-up on Monday. The options to replace Danilo were Dani Alves or Éder Militao.

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Neymar, 30, is second on Brazil’s goalscoring list with 75 goals, two behind Pele’s national team record. He has yet to win a major title with Brazil.

Neymar had to leave the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after suffering a back injury in the quarter-final against Colombia. He also missed the 2019 Copa América with a right ankle injury.

Brazil, who are aiming for their first World Cup title in two decades, will face Cameroon in their final Group G match. The team can reach the round of 16 with a win on Monday if Cameroon fail to beat Serbia in their other group game.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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