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Neymar ankle injury offers Arsenal duo Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus Brazil starting hope

Football.London

Arsenal duo Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus have been offered hope of a starting role for Brazil at the World Cup – but it could come at the expense of superstar Neymar.

The Brazil striker was substituted in the second half of the win over Serbia after his side went 2-0 up thanks to goals from Tottenham striker Richarlison. The Paris Saint-Germain star rolled his ankle during an awkward tackle with Serbia’s Nikola Milenkovic.

After leaving the pitch, Neymar was visibly emotional on the bench as he was tended to by the team’s medical staff, with the 30-year-old having a torrid time with injuries in the past.

READ MORE: Richarlison answers Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino questions with Brazil stunner

Neymar missed the infamous 7-1 defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-final in his home country after suffering a fractured vertebra in his spine in the quarter-final against Colombia.

Another tournament-ending injury would be heart-breaking for Neymar and a big problem for Brazil – but it would add a place in the starting lineup for a team packed with attacking stars.

Arsenal duo Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli both started on the bench against Serbia amid calls for Jesus in particular to start over Richarlison. However, after a quiet first half the Spurs striker answered his critics in style.

Meanwhile, the likes of Manchester United attacker Antony and Real Madrid’s Rodrygo also came on in the second half, underscoring Brazil’s strength in depth in their squad. Coach Tite could also look to the likes of Bruno Guimaraes to replace Neymar in more of a central role.

Brazil’s team doctor told reporters after the match: “Neymar has a right ankle trauma. Due to the impact that he had with the knee of the Serbia player, we immediately started the treatment when he was on the bench. We need to wait 24 to 48 hours to have a better assessment.” Meanwhile, Tite looked to quell fears, stating to reporters: “Don’t worry, Neymar will play the World Cup. He will keep playing, you can be sure about that.”

Neymar left the ground with no strapping on his swollen ankle, but was seen limping heavily through the mixed zone. It’s a quick turnaround before their next game against Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland on Monday, who will be hoping to continue their winning start to the tournament.

Should the Brazil star be unable to take the pitch in their next clash, the likes of Jesus and Martinelli will be pushing hard to replace him in the team.

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