Injured Neymar in doubt for Real return leg

Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar in distress after injuring his ankle during the 3-0 win over Marseille in Ligue 1 on Sunday. PSG coach Unai Emery is confident that the Brazilian will be fit for the Champions League last-16 return leg against Real
Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar in distress after injuring his ankle during the 3-0 win over Marseille in Ligue 1 on Sunday. PSG coach Unai Emery is confident that the Brazilian will be fit for the Champions League last-16 return leg against Real Madrid.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Paris Saint-Germain are sweating over Neymar's fitness ahead of next Tuesday's Champions League clash against Real Madrid after he was stretchered off in tears on Sunday.

The Brazilian superstar suffered an ankle injury against Marseille and was taken off 10 minutes from time at the Parc des Princes as PSG opened up a 14-point lead in Ligue 1 with a 3-0 win.

The 26-year-old innocuously rolled his right ankle and flopped to the ground in pain.

Le Parisien reported that the 26-year-old underwent tests at a hospital just outside Paris in the early hours of yesterday which ruled out a "fracture or a serious sprain".

But Sky Sports reported that Neymar will be ruled out for three weeks even though fears of a broken ankle were unfounded.

Neymar posted a picture of his heavily bandaged ankle on Instagram yesterday but did not comment on the extent of the injury.

PSG coach Unai Emery said after the game that early examinations in the dressing room showed Neymar had twisted the ankle and that he is optimistic the forward will be fit for the Real game.

PSG will be looking to overturn a 3-1 deficit when they host the European champions, and are desperate for the world's most expensive footballer to start in the most important game of their season.

The French giants splurged €222 million (S$360 million) on Neymar in the summer with hopes that he could help the club win their first Champions League title.

He has contributed 28 goals and 16 assists so far this season.

"If I had to say today (whether or not he will face Real), I would rather say 'yes' to being optimistic," Emery said on Sunday.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane hopes Neymar can recover in time for the return leg against his side.

"I don't like to see players get injured and I hope he can be back for the game, I never want a player to miss a game due to injury," the Frenchman told a news conference ahead of his team's LaLiga game against Espanyol today.

"I don't think it (the injury) will have a big influence on the game, as there will always be someone who can play instead of him.

"I was watching the game and I was sad when he (Neymar) got injured."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2018, with the headline 'Injured Neymar in doubt for Real return leg'. Print Edition | Subscribe