Neymar vows to work harder as World Cup beckons

Injured Brazil striker Neymar has targeted May 17 for a return to training and vowed to work harder than ever to be ready for this year's World Cup finals in Russia.

Injured Brazil striker Neymar has targeted May 17 for a return to training and vowed to work harder than ever to be ready for this year’s World Cup finals in Russia.

The Paris Saint-Germain player, who became the world’s most expensive footballer when he joined the French Ligue 1 club from La Liga’s Barcelona in August, had an operation on his foot after being injured in a league game against Olympique Marseille on February 25.

He has been receiving treatment in Brazil and said he expects to be training exactly a month before the five-time champion plays its World Cup opener against Switzerland on June 17.

“I get my final exam, if I’m not mistaken, on May 17 and then I’ll be free to play,” he told reporters at a news conference in Sao Paulo. He arrived for the function using crutches and asked to be seated as quickly as possible when he was on stage.

“I had an exam last week, it is all perfect, evolving well, so I hope that continues so I can get back 1as 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 and I hope to get there in great shape.”

Neymar played for Brazil at the 2014 World Cup but missed the catastrophic 1-7 semifinal defeat to eventual champion Germany through injury.

Brazil struggled in the two years immediately after its home World Cup but has since rebounded and goes to Russia as a joint favorite with bookmakers along with Germany.

Neymar, who joined PSG for a fee of 222 million euros (US$275 million), said he was apprehensive about kicking a football again after almost three months out.

“I expect to go (to the World Cup) in a better state than before,” the striker said. “Of course, doubts exist and I feel them too sometimes, 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.”

After opening its Group E World Cup campaign against Switzerland, Brazil faces Costa Rica on June 22 and then Serbia five days later.

The Brazilian also said it was hard not to be with his PSG teammates to celebrate their French league title on Sunday.

“It is very bad to see my team score, win a title and I am not able to be there. But my health is above this,” he said.

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