Wednesday, April 17

‘Philippe Coutinho can cover for injured Neymar’

Agencies

Brazil coach Tite believes Philippe Coutinho can help make up for the loss of injured Neymar in the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Neymar, who is recovering from an ankle injury sustained with Paris Saint-Germain in November, will miss Thursday’s game at Ecuador and the encounter against Paraguay on February 1, ESPN reported.

“People always want Neymar, but at times things don’t happen the way you want,” ESPN quoted Tite as saying. “We feel sorry that Neymar can’t be here, but we have other options. I’m talking about [Philippe] Coutinho, he is a player that can play in that role and I believe in his quality.”

Coutinho, 29, has not featured for Brazil since October 2020, but is expected to play against Ecuador in place of Lucas Paqueta, who is suspended.

The former Liverpool star underwent left knee surgery in January 2021 and has battled to resurrect his career. He joined Aston Villa on loan from Barcelona earlier this month.

Tite described the experienced midfielder as “an important player” for the national team and believes he is recovering “his best level.”

Tite, meanwhile, confirmed he will field attacking trio Vinicius Junior, Raphinha and Matheus Cunha against Ecuador.

Despite his team having already qualified for the World Cup, Tite wants strong performances from Brazil.

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