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Brazil says injured Neymar will be ready for Colombia

AP

Neymar will be fit to play in the World Cup quarterfinal against Colombia despite thigh and knee injuries sustained against Chile, Brazil’s soccer confederation said Monday.

The confederation said team doctor Jose Luiz Runco checked Neymar again when the squad returned to its training camp and said the player is not a concern for Friday’s match in the northeastern city of Fortaleza.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was worried after Saturday’s match, saying it could take days for the player to get better and that doctors would have to do their “best to put him on the pitch.”

Neymar complained of a left thigh injury after Brazil’s penalty shootout win over Chile, and Runco said the player was also being treated for a hit on his right knee.

Confederation spokesman Rodrigo Paiva said Neymar could miss a few training sessions depending on how the injuries progress.

“The worst is the knee, it’s what’s hurting the most,” Paiva said. “He may be rested from practice if needed. He will be evaluated again, but Runco said fans don’t have to worry because he’s not a concern for the match.”

Neymar’s was subjected to heavy challenges during the match against Chile, and twice he had to leave the pitch for treatment. The first time was when he was hit by midfielder Charles Aranguiz in the fourth minute, and then following a challenge by Arturo Vidal in the 28th, when the striker nearly flipped over near the sideline.

Neymar said he played with pain the rest of the match. Neymar scored one of the penalties that gave Brazil a 3-2 win in the shootout after a 1-1 draw. Scolari said the player’s thigh was extremely swollen in the dressing room after the match.

“We just hope Neymar can recover as fast as possible so he can be ready for our next match,” Brazil defensive midfielder Fernandinho said.

Brazil doctors said three other players were undergoing treatment following the Chile game, although none of the injuries were serious.

Midfielder Luiz Gustavo, who is out against Colombia because he received his second yellow card, was nursing a right knee injury, while playmaker Oscar had a deep scratch on his left thigh. Defender David Luiz was recovering from a back problem sustained before the Chile match.

Suarez apologizes

Rio de Janeiro AP

After a few days of reflection, Luis Suarez acknowledged what millions saw on TV — he did bite an opponent during a game at the World Cup. In addition, he said he’s sorry about it, and promised it will never happen again.

Ending a unified protest in Uruguay by everyone from Suarez to teammates, fans and even the country’s president that the star striker had done nothing wrong, the Liverpool player on Monday offered an apology to Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

“I deeply regret what occurred,” Suarez said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I apologize to Giorgio Chiellini and the entire football family. . . . I vow to the public that there will never again be another incident like (this).”

The Uruguay striker was banned for four months from all soccer by FIFA for biting the shoulder of Chiellini during the team’s 1-0 win over Italy in their group-stage game in Brazil.