In Brief

2018 World Cup: injury blow for Neymar and Zlatan eyes return

Brazil star has a race to be fit for Russia while Ibrahimovic may come out of retirement for Sweden

Neymar’s hopes of playing in the 2018 World Cup could be in doubt after the £200m Paris Saint-Germain forward fractured a metatarsal and sprained his ankle earlier this week during the Ligue 1 match against Marseille. 

The 26-year-old is expected to undergo surgery in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow, Sky Sports reports. According to the Brazilian team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar, the striker’s recovery period will be “around two and a half to three months”. 

This summer’s World Cup starts on 15 June and Neymar’s injury is a huge blow for Brazil. With 53 international goals in 83 games, Brazil will hope their talisman will feature in Russia.

Neymar was sitting in a wheelchair when he arrived in Rio. Initial reports said that he would only miss six weeks, but Lasmar said his injury was complicated and surgery was needed.

The doctor told reporters in Rio: “It’s not a simple fracture, but a fracture in an important bone in the middle of the foot.

“Yesterday we went back to the hospital [in Paris] and made new exams that left the seriousness of the fracture very clear. There was no doubt left regarding the treatment. We were unanimous in agreeing that it would have to be surgical treatment. More conservative treatment, without surgery, would present a far greater risk for refracture. We can’t run that risk.”

Even though Neymar faces a spell on the sidelines, the national team fitness coach believes the injury could prove to be a positive thing for Brazil, who start their World Cup campaign against Switzerland.

Fabio Mahseredjian told Globe Esporte: “I’m sure he’ll play in the first match, first because he’s an athlete who takes care of himself, and he has a physiotherapist and a physical trainer who take care of him every day. 

“Neymar will come with a very low workload, both of games and of training, basically as if it were a pre-season. I say without any problem that it is good for us, since he will not be arriving with a high load of games. He will probably come to us well physically and, we believe, psychologically as well.”

In Group E, Brazil face the Swiss on 17 June in Rostov-on-Don; Costa Rica on 22 June in Saint Petersburg; and Serbia on 27 June in Moscow.

Zlatan opens the door to Sweden return

While Neymar faces a race against time to play in the World Cup finals, there’s another star striker who fancies his chances of being on the pitch in Russia.

Despite retiring from international duty after Euro 2016, Zlatan Ibrahimovic could come out of retirement and play for Sweden again this summer.

The Daily Mail says that Ibrahimovic has “opened the door” on a return for Sweden if he can “recover his fitness in time”. 

When asked about the possibility of ending his international retirement, the 36-year-old told reporters in Sweden: “We’ll see, it’s a tough question. I want to feel that I can perform and give back. I don’t want to come just because I’m somebody. The door isn’t closed for anything.

“I miss the national team. When you’ve played in the national team for 20 years and then you’re not in it anymore, and you see the others playing in the national team, it’s tough.”

Sweden are in World Cup Group F and face South Korea in their first match on 18 June in Nizhny Novgorod. They then play Germany on 23 June in Sochi and Mexico on 27 June in Ekaterinburg.

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