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Brazil to give Neymar time to recover for Bolivia clash

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Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Angers (SCO) at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on October 2, 2020. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Brazil said on Thursday they will give star forward Neymar as much time as possible to recover from a back injury so he can face Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier.

The Copa America champions start their bid to qualify for Qatar 2022 on Friday in Sao Paulo but could be without the Paris Saint-Germain striker.

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“It’s a health problem that’s not entirely resolved,” said coach Tite.

The 28-year-old’s back injury flared up before training on Wednesday.

“He’s a little bit better today than yesterday,” said team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar. “We’ll see tomorrow how he responds.”

Should Neymar be forced to miss the match, Tite said he would be replaced by Flamengo’s attacking midfielder Everton Ribeiro.

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Neymar’s injury travails kept him out of most of Brazil’s matches last year.

He played in only four out of 16 games and was injured in two of those — against Qatar in June and Nigeria in October.

The injury against Qatar forced him to miss the Copa America that Brazil won on home soil.

Tite said Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro would captain the side with Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz lining up alongside him in midfield.

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