Neymar Optimistic about Return for Brazil at Russia 2018

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Brazil international Neymar hopes to be fit for this summer’s World Cup and said he will return to training from a broken foot on May 17.

The Paris St-Germain forward needed surgery on a broken metatarsal bone after being injured in a league game on February 25.

Brazil play their World Cup opening fixture against Switzerland on June 17, a month after his expected return.

“I hope to get there in great shape,” said the 26-year-old.

Neymar became the world’s most expensive footballer when he joined PSG from Barcelona last August, and has scored 25 goals with 16 assists for the French side this season.

“I get my final examination on 17 May and then I’ll be free to play,” he told a news conference in Sao Paulo, where he has been receiving treatment.

“I had an examination last week, it is all perfect, evolving well, so I hope that continues so I can get back as soon as possible.

“I am having treatment every day, and from the moment I start training I am going to work harder than I ever worked because this is a dream that’s coming up. It’s a World Cup. I’ve waited four years for this chance, it’s close.”

Neymar played for Brazil, who have won the World Cup five times, at the 2014 finals in his homeland, but missed their 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany through injury.

Brazil go to Russia as joint favourites alongside champions Germany. After their opener against Switzerland in Group E, they face Costa Rica on 22 June and then Serbia five days later.

Neymar, who joined PSG for a fee of 222m euros (£200m), said he was apprehensive about kicking a ball again after almost three months out.

“Of course, doubts exist and I feel them too sometimes,” he said. “But that’s normal for a guy who has had the first surgery of his career. It’s very difficult for me not playing and not training.

“I have to work even harder but I am going to have enough time to arrive in form for the World Cup, to prepare. It was horrible getting injured but I am more rested, that’s the upside. We have to see the positive side of things.”