Injured Barcelona star Neymar will play no part in the Catalan giants' Club World Cup semi-final against Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande on 17 December, his father has confirmed. Neymar Sr insisted that his son will return to full fitness in time for the final in Yokohama on 20 December.
The Brazil international suffered a groin injury during training last week and has missed Barcelona's last two matches against Bayer Leverkusen and Deportivo La Coruna. "No, he will definitely not play [in the semi-final]. If he plays, it will be in the final," Neymar Sr told Catalan daily Sport.
"We have a recovery time of a week or 10 days, and we believe it will take this time [for Neymar to return]. We cannot think only of the Club World Cup title, but Neymar will be ready to play in the final. I'm sure of that," he said.
'Injury not down to fatigue'
Neymar is the top scorer in the La Liga this season with 14 goals and was named the player of month in November by the Spanish Football League (LFP). Luis Enrique's side sorely missed the Brazilian's presence during the weekend as they were held to a 2-2 draw against Deportivo at the Nou Camp.
Neymar Sr said that the injury was the first muscular problem his son had suffered in his career, but dismissed concerns that it was a result of playing too many matches. "It was not an injury because of fatigue. Physically he's well balanced," he stated.
"When he started training in Leverkusen it was very cold and maybe he didn't warm up enough. What happened was an accident, not a consequence of playing too many games."
The first of the Fifa Club World Cup semi-finals takes place on 16 December and sees Japanese side Sanfrecce Hiroshima taking on Argentine outfit River Plate in Osaka. Barcelona are looking to win the tournament for the third time after previous triumphs in 2009 and 2011.