Neymar injury: World Cup wildcards Brazil boss Tite could use
The news that Neymar is expected to miss three months after undergoing surgery on a fractured metatarsal will have no doubt sent alarm bells ringing for Brazil boss Tite.
Should the timeframe for recovery supplied by national team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar prove accurate, Neymar will miss the rest of Paris Saint-Germain's season and be looking to return to match fitness in the weeks leading up to the 2018 World Cup.
It understandably casts doubt over the 26-year-old's chances of featuring at Russia - at least during the group stage - and could lead to Tite selecting an additional attacking option in his squad.
If Tite wants that to be a player who can cause damage as an unknown quantity on the grandest stage, these are the likely wildcards he could throw into the mix.
Luan (Gremio, 24)
Voted the 2017 South American Footballer of the Year after helping Gremio claim the Copa Libertadores title, one of Luan's eight goals in the competition came in the second leg of the final against Lanus.
He has experience of aiding Brazil on the big stage, featuring in all six matches as they claimed a historic first Olympic gold medal in men's football at Rio 2016.
Após o treinamento desta segunda-feira, o atacante Luan foi homenageado pela nossa lenda viva, o Seu Verardi, pelo título de Rei da América, concedido em votação popular no final de 2017: https://t.co/IpR8Fn21tI pic.twitter.com/GgZgZbOQhS
— Grêmio FBPA (@Gremio) February 19, 2018
Gustavo Scarpa (Palmeiras, 24)
A player who likes to attack from the left wing, Scarpa's only senior international appearance came in the Chapecoense benefit friendly against Colombia in January 2017.
Tite was in charge for that match and used the attacking midfielder, who swapped Fluminense for Palmeiras in January from the bench. His new club-mate Dudu could be seen as a more experienced option, however.
Valdivia (Sao Paulo, 23)
Signed by Internacional after starring in Brazil's prestigious Copa Sao Paulo youth football tournament in 2012, Valdivia – the nickname derived from an appearance that is similar to that of Chile international Jorge Valdivia – was one of the most exciting prospects in Brazilian football until sustaining a cruciate ligament tear in November 2015.
He struggled to rediscover his best form and has been sent on loan to Sao Paulo after a move to Atletico Mineiro proved initially unsuccessful.
— São Paulo FC (@SaoPauloFC_eng) February 11, 2018
Gabriel Barbosa (Santos, 21)
Touted as the next Neymar and nicknamed 'Gabigol' due to his prolific scoring in Santos' youth ranks, a move to Inter in August 2016 failed to work out.
A torrid spell in Italy was not eased by a loan move to Benfica, but having been given a temporary switch back to Brazil he has scored four times in four matches. He also has two goals in four senior caps.
— Santos Futebol Clube (@SantosFC) February 19, 2018
Richarlison (Watford, 20)
Game-winning goals against Bournemouth and Watford in the opening months of his Watford career made Richarlison a quick hit with the Hornets faithful.
He has progressed year on year during his career and is another player who is most comfortable when attacking in from the left wing.
Malcom (Bordeaux, 20)
A move to Arsenal failed to materialise in the January transfer window but Malcom is expected to seal a switch to one of Europe's elite clubs in the off-season.
He has already worked under Tite, too, having been part of the Brazil boss' Corinthians side that won the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2015.
Vinicius Junior (Flamengo, 17)
Even if he does not get a surprise call-up from Tite in the coming months, Flamengo winger Vinicius is another player destined for the big stage having agreed a reported €45million move to Real Madrid less than two weeks after his first senior appearance last May.
He was largely used as a substitute in his maiden season with the Rio de Janeiro giants but has four goals in eight appearances in the Campeonato Carioca this season.
— Flamengo (@Flamengo) January 25, 2018
Paulinho (Vasco da Gama, 17)
Paulinho was granted his Vasco debut after scoring twice as Brazil won the South American Under-17 Championship last year, while Vinicius scored seven times and was named the tournament's best player.
A composed finisher, he hit a game-winning double at Atletico Mineiro in just his third appearance and proved crucial to the club's qualification for this year's Copa Libertadores.