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Brazil No.10 was hit for six by challenge from Zuniga

Missing a World Cup semi-final will feel like a right pain in the backside for Neymar.

The Brazilian might also consider himself fortunate to feel anything at all, since he had uttered a concern that he was paralysed in the moments immediately following a foul from Colombia defender Juan Zuniga. Instead the forward suffered a fractured vertebra.

The challenge has ended his participation at the finals - and just days before Brazil take on Germany in the semi-finals, a match which takes place tomorrow - but he retains the ability to get back on his feet at the end of his recovery. Medical officials have suggested that the Barcelona forward will have overcome his injury after 45 days.

Neymar posted a message online last night thanking his compatriots for their support after he learned that he will play no further part in the tournament. The words were delivered in a very different tone to those uttered while prostrate on the turf awaiting medical attention. "Marcelo ran up to Neymar [directly after the challenge] and asked him how he was feeling and he told him: 'I can't feel my legs'," said the Luis Felipe Scolari, the Brazil head coach.

The forward has both feet up after returning to his home city of Guaruja to begin his recovery. He is out of the Brazil team, although there remains a seat on the bench should he find the strength to support his side when they face Germany.

"He will be with us if he can, on the bench or in the stands," said Scolari. "We have already asked him to do this. It all will depend on how he is in the upcoming days. If he can do it, I am certain that he will."

The Brazil squad will fly to Belo Horizonte today for the final stage of their semi-final preparation. For the head coach, this means identifying the man to replace Neymar, a talismanic figure for the hosts and their leading scorer. Captain Thiago Silva is also out through suspension.

"[Losing Neymar is] equivalent to a catastrophe," said Scolari, who could move Oscar into the position vacated by Neymar. "Neymar is our reference. He is a player that would make the difference in any team. We have lost the one player we did not want to lose and it's for the semi-final and final."

The Brazilian Football Federation confirmed last night that team psychologist Regina Brandao would visit Teresopolis to speak with the squad. Indeed, even Scolari found the ordeal of witnessing Neymar's hard to take. "It was a big shock," he said. "The image of Neymar being carried off on a stretcher towards the plane, the difficulties, the tears . . ."

Juniga has also found the whole episode trying. The Colombian has been vilified by Brazil supporters and has even been threatened online, despite making an apology to Neymar and the Brazilian team. There were signs of disappointment from within the German camp too, with some of their players having been eager to test themselves against Brazil's No.10. "We are all very sad that Neymar can't play," said Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Germany midfielder. "It is always best if all the big players are on the pitch for the big games." Neymar's injury is really a right pain in the backside.

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