Ribeiro could start for Brazil if Neymar is ruled out

SAO PAULO (AP) — An injury to Neymar has prompted Brazil coach Tite to consider bringing in Flamengo’s Everton Ribeiro for the opening round of South American World Cup qualifying against Bolivia.

Neymar left Wednesday’s training session early with back pains and also skipped practice on Thursday, compounding Brazil’s injury concerns with goalkeeper Alisson and striker Gabriel Jesus already out.

Asked about Ribeiro during a press conference, Tite said he still counts on having Neymar available for Friday’s game.

“We will wait. If we don’t have him, it will be Everton Ribeiro,” Brazil’s coach said.

Brazil’s team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said Neymar had made “a small improvement” since Wednesday, but wasn’t in condition to train. Lasmar said he’d wait until Friday to make a call on Neymar’s fitness to play.

The 31-year-old Ribeiro is one of the main players for Flamengo, defending South American and Brazilian champion. He works more as a playmaker than as a sharp winger like Neymar.

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