DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Neymar was back training on Saturday, doing drills with the ball and taking shots on goal only two days before Brazil's match against South Korea in the round of 16 of the World Cup.
The good news for the five-time champions came the same day left back Alex Telles and forward Gabriel Jesus were ruled out of the tournament because of injuries sustained in the 1-0 loss to Cameroon on Friday.
Neymar hadn't been back to the team's training center since he damaged ligaments in his right ankle in Brazil's opener against Serbia.
“I feel good,” Neymar said in a post on Instagram. “I knew that I would now.”
He joined the light practice session with the players who didn't start on Friday. In images released by the Brazilian soccer confederation, Neymar did a series of individual drills, kicking the ball with both feet and not showing signs of his injury.
Brazil team doctors didn't immediately give an update on Neymar's condition, or say if he would be available for the game against South Korea.
Neymar had been looking well when he accompanied his teammates at Lusail Stadium on Friday. He walked without a limp and briefly played with the ball without any visible issues. He could be seen jogging across the field on his way to the locker room after the match was over.
Neymar, seeking his first major title with Brazil, was forced out of the 2014 World Cup after hurting his back in the quarterfinals against Colombia. He didn’t play in the 2019 Copa America because of another right ankle injury.
Neymar posted a message of support to Telles and Jesus, who injured their right knees as Brazil's reserve squad lost to Cameroon in its last group game. Brazil had already reached the round of 16.
“Strength and faith,” he said in a story on Instagram along with photos of both players. “We'll always be together.”
Telles had made his debut in Brazil’s second game, against Switzerland, after regular starter Alex Sandro got injured. Gabriel Jesus came off the bench in the first two matches.
Jesus will leave Qatar in the next few days to rejoin Arsenal, while Telles will depart after the game against South Korea to return to Sevilla, the Brazilian soccer confederation said.
Right back Danilo, who also missed Brazil’s last two matches because of an ankle injury, trained normally with the rest of the group on Saturday and was expected to be available for the match against South Korea. It's not clear if Sandro will be able to play. If not, Tite will have to improvise at left back.
Brazil was eliminated by Belgium in the quarterfinals in Russia. The team is trying to win its first World Cup title in two decades.
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