Brazil coach Tite has insisted he would never risk the health of star man Neymar after selecting him in his team to face Costa Rica on Friday.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker, who missed three months of football earlier this year with a fractured metatarsal, set alarm bells ringing when he limped out of training with an ankle problem on Tuesday.
However, Tite has named him in an unchanged side for his side’s second Group E fixture and is adamant he would not have done so if it were a gamble.
Asked if Neymar would be playing if it were not the World Cup finals, he told a press conference: “Yes, yes. It’s not a sacrifice. It’s an evolutionary process, you just speed up the steps. Yes, he would be playing. It’s not a sacrifice.
“We want to win, it’s a World Cup, but the coach is not going to risk a player’s health by being dishonest to him. That’s a price that’s too high to pay.
“Those values of health and honesty, no way, there’s no compromise.”
Tite also played down suggestions that he had pulled Neymar to one side in the wake of Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland to implore him to be more of a team player rather than an individual.
He said: “Absolutely not. The information you got is not true, it’s not true. It didn’t happen.
“All the players have the responsibility of playing for the collective and also being individuals, some with some specific characteristics.
“Neymar, I’m not going to take away from him this initiative in the last third of the pitch. He’s a genius. You have my word, this is not true.
“We all have to work as a team, but we have to respect the characteristics. In the last third of the pitch, you have to create possibilities for the finish. I’m not going to take that away from anybody.”
Meanwhile, defender Thiago Silva will captain Brazil in Friday’s game with Marcelo having worn the armband against the Swiss.
Brazil expect Neymar to be back in training on Wednesday after the forward limped out of Tuesday’s session in Sochi because of ankle pain.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker, who recovered fitness from a fractured metatarsal to play at the World Cup, left after around 20 minutes – and hobbled off to receive further treatment.
The Brazil Football Confederation (CBF) later confirmed that Neymar had “complained of ankle pains due to the number of fouls suffered against Switzerland,” but team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar added the forward was expected to resume training again on Wednesday afternoon following further physiothepary.
Brazil drew their opening Group E match against the Swiss 1-1 on Sunday at the Rostov Arena, and next play Costa Rica in St Petersburg on Friday.
A statement on the CBF Twitter account from Dr Lasmar said: “Neymar complained of ankle pains, due to the number of fouls suffered against Switzerland.
“As the training was a recovery session, he was referred to physiotherapy. (He will) stay there today and tomorrow morning, (then) training (again) tomorrow afternoon.”
Neymar, 25, had already sat out Monday’s light training, before being forced off on Tuesday and unable to complete the rest of the scheduled session.
The official FIFA Twitter Brazil reporter also provided an update on Neymar’s latest condition via the tournament website following Tuesday’s training session and press conference.
“CBF has spoken officially about the condition of Neymar, having only taken part in about 20 minutes of today’s training,” the update from @FIFAWorldCupBRA read.
“The forward has been dealing with some discomfort in his right ankle but is expected to be back to work as normal and on the pitch in Wednesday’s session.”
Speaking in an interview with CNN, the 41-year old has talked about Brazil’s chances of winning the tournament for a record sixth time.
Ronaldo believes Neymar can take the Seleção all the way having returned from a long-term injury, just like he himself did to help Brazil lift the title in 2002.
Brazil, meanwhile, have been drawn in Group E alongside Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
Their first game will be against the Swiss on June 17.
Watch the video below to hear what Ronaldo had to say…