SAO PAULO (AP) - Captain Thiago Silva and midfielders Paulinho and Fernandinho will not play in Brazil’s warm-up match against Panama on Tuesday.
The three players will not travel with the rest of the squad for the match in the central city of Goiania, the team’s second-to-last game before the World Cup opener against Croatia on June 12.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said Sunday that Silva and Fernandinho are not in good physical condition yet, while Paulinho is nursing a left ankle injury sustained in practice a day earlier.
The coach said the players are being rested just to avoid risks and are not a concern for the World Cup.
“We are not worried,” Scolari told Brazilian television at the team’s training camp in Teresopolis, outside Rio de Janeiro. “It’s a precaution. Four or five people will stay here working with them. When we come back they should be in condition to practice normally again.”
The coach said all players should be fit to play against Serbia on Friday, the team’s final match before the opener in Sao Paulo.
Scolari had already said that Brazil wouldn’t be at full strength for the match against Panama because not all players were in perfect shape after returning from their clubs. He said he would follow doctors’ recommendations and would not risk anything for the World Cup.
Thiago Silva had already been rested from a few practice sessions since Brazil began its preparations last Monday.
Paulinho, another likely starter at the opener, was hurt in a ball dispute with forward Bernard on Saturday. He did not practice with the rest of the team on Sunday because of pain in his left ankle. Bernard also had to leave the practice, but he was set to travel to Goiania.
Midfielder Hernanes is expected to replace Paulinho against Panama, while Dante will likely replace Thiago Silva.
“It’s a great responsibility to replace Thiago but that’s why we are here,” Dante said. “We’ve been working hard to make sure we are ready for something like this.”
Fernandinho had already been playing among the reserves.
Scolari was upset after Sunday’s training match, saying he saw “a lot of things wrong” with the team. He wasn’t pleased that the reserves had too many chances on counterattacks and had a few crisp discussions with some of the players at the end of training.
“It’s natural for something like this to happen,” left back Maxwell said. “We just have to listen to him and do whatever is needed to try to improve.”
Brazilian players will have a few hours off on Sunday before traveling to Goiania at night.