By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Wednesday afternoon, May 23rd, less than one month away from the 2018 Russia World Cup, Brazil’s men’s national football (soccer) team (seleção) received a huge boost with the return of Neymar, who joined several teammates on the main pitch at the Granja Comary training ground in Teresopolis, outside Rio de Janeiro.
The superstar forward spent about an hour on the pitch and participated in several dribbling and shooting drills alongside Manchester City duo Gabriel Jesus and Danilo, Geromel, Fernandinho, Fred, Felipe Luiz, and Taison.
In a press conference afterwards, the team’s medical staff praised Neymar’s progress and suggested that his recovery is ahead of schedule. “Neymar has been evolving very well,” explained trainer Fabio Mahseredjian.
“He’s regaining his usual movements bit by bit,” added team doctor, Rodrigo Lasmar, after watching Neymar’s practice.
Despite the medical staff’s optimism about his progress, officials would not confirm whether Neymar would definitely be ready for the club’s friendlies on June 3rd against Croatia in Liverpool, and June 10th against Austria in Vienna.
“It is difficult to speak in percentages, we always want to improve more,” said Mahseredjian. “We do not know where an excellent athlete can reach, but I can say that his evolution is above our expectations.”
Neymar had been out of action since February 25th when he suffering a cracked fifth metatarsal in his right foot while playing for Paris Saint-Germain. He returned to Brazil and underwent surgery in Belo Horizonte on March 3rd and had been recovering in Mangaratiba.
After undergoing medical exams on Tuesday, May 22nd, he was cleared to take part in Wednesday’s training.
“The next step is full group training and then play games,” said Lasmar. “Everything is being done for him to feel at ease.”
The team will continue training at Granja Comary until leaving for London on May 27th ahead of their first warm-up against Croatia on June 3rd in Liverpool.
The seleção will officially kick off their 2018 World Cup Russia campaign against Switzerland on June 17th. Brazil will battle it out in Group E along with Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia.