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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Neymar not 100 per cent fit 'but ready to play at World Cup'

Brazil striker is still feeling discomfort in the foot he injured in February

Brazil's Neymar plays with his son David Lucca, right, and other children after a training session of the national football team ahead of the FIFA 2018 World Cup, at Granja Comary training centre in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mauro Pimentel / AFP
Brazil's Neymar plays with his son David Lucca, right, and other children after a training session of the national football team ahead of the FIFA 2018 World Cup, at Granja Comary training centre in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mauro Pimentel / AFP

Neymar admitted on Sunday he is not 100 per cent in shape after a week's training with Brazil in their World Cup preparations. The striker said he still feels discomfort in his recovering right foot but believes he will be better for the tournament in Russia, which begins June 14.

"Physically I am well, my foot is fine. I am adapting in a few things. I still feel some discomfort, but it is not something that will trouble me," the 26-year-old said at Brazil's football confederation headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.

Asked how well he was feeling now, Neymar answered: "Not 100 per cent yet. But that comes with time. It is normal that I have this fear of making complete movements. Let's take it easy, there are still many days until the (World Cup) opener and I will be 100 per cent then."

Neymar has not played a match since February but hopes to be on the pitch again in Brazil's friendly against Croatia on June 3 in Liverpool.

"I am ready to play, there is nothing that can stop me," he said. "What I feel today is this fear because I am coming back now."

The Brazilian was forced to leave the 2014 World Cup with a vertebral fracture in the 2-1 victory against Colombia in the quarterfinals.

Brazil's Filipe Luis, right, embraces Neymar during a practice session of the Brazilian national soccer team ahead the World Cup in Russia, at the Granja Comary training center In Teresopolis, Brazil, Friday, May 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Brazil's Filipe Luis, right, embraces Neymar during a practice session of the Brazilian team ahead the World Cup in Russia, at the Granja Comary training center In Teresopolis, Brazil. Leo Correa / AP Photo

"I hope that dream is not interrupted once more and that it is consolidated with a title for us," Neymar said.

During the week in the Granja Comary training camp in Teresopolis, outside Rio, Neymar continued his recovery - dribbling and passing at high speed. Members of Brazil's coaching staff have tried to reduce pressure on the star by saying it would take time until he delivered his best performances.

Brazil's 20-man squad were set to fly to London later on Sunday to continue their World Cup preparations.

Neymar also dismissed rumours he could leave Paris Saint-Germain.

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Asked about speculation linking him to Real Madrid, he answered: "My focus is Brazil, people are saying nonsense and that is not worth answering."

Champions League winners Casemiro and Marcelo of Real Madrid and runner-up Roberto Firmino of Liverpool will join the group on Wednesday.

Brazil's football confederation spokesman Vinicius Rodrigues said coach Tite decided to give the three players more time to rest before they join the squad.

The Brazilian squad is set to arrive at Stansted Airport in England on Monday morning and head straight to Tottenham's training ground in the north of the city. The team will set up camp there until June 8.