Brazil will leave the decision whether or not to play Neymar against Colombia up until the last minute after the poster boy of the 2014 World Cup continued to struggle with injury on Tuesday, appearing in a low-intensity training session with his knee heavily strapped.
Neymar, who has scored four goals in the tournament so far – as well as a penalty in the shootout second round victory over Chile – is an injury concern for Brazil manager Luis Felipe Scolari ahead of the quarter-final encounter against the Colombians.
While the forward appeared in good spirits, laughing and joking with his team-mates, he was restricted in his participation and was seen to have his right knee strapped up. He spent a prolonged period of the session watching from the sidelines, and while the injury is still a mystery to the medical staff, he was still able to cycle during the session.
Brazil were left unhappy with the treatment Neymar has received so far in the World Cup, and in particular against Chile where he is believed to have hurt his knee.
Brazil spokesman Rodrigo Paiva admitted that he will be evaluated again before Friday’s last-eight tie, but wanted to stress that fans needn’t worry as the Selecao’s key player will be fit to play.
“The worst is the knee - it's what's hurting the most,” said Paiva.
“He will be evaluated again, but team doctor Jose Luiz Runco said fans don't have to worry because he's not a concern for the match.”
The problem for Scolari is that even if Neymar is not 100 per cent fit, he is likely to start him due to the rest of the Brazil squad yet to offer a goal threat like the 22-year-old. Neymar has scored more than 50 per cent of Brazil’s goals in the tournament, netting a brace against both Croatia and Cameroon in the group stage.
With striker Fred being heavily criticised for his performances so far, Neymar has had to take on the burden of leading the nation to a sixth World Cup – and a first on home soil – while attacking midfielders Hulk and Oscar are yet to show their best.
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