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Fernandinho favourite for Brazil midfield

AFP
Brazil's midfielder Fernandinho celebrates after scoring their fourth goal during the Group A football match between Cameroon and Brazil at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 23, 2014
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Brazil's midfielder Fernandinho celebrates after scoring their fourth goal during the Group A football match between Cameroon and Brazil at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 23, 2014 (AFP Photo/Vanderlei Almeida)

Teresópolis (Brazil) (AFP) - Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari indicated on Thursday that Fernandinho will begin in midfield for Saturday's World Cup last 16 clash with Chile, while David Luiz withdrew from training early with a back complaint.

Manchester City player Fernandinho played alongside the likely starters in a training game against substitutes at Brazil's Teresopolis base, suggesting he could start for the first time in the tournament.

Paulinho, of Tottenham Hotspur, started in central midfield alongside Luiz Gustavo in each of Brazil's three Group A matches.

However, in Monday's 4-1 win over Cameroon in Brasilia, he was ineffective and was replaced at half-time by Fernandinho, who went on to score one goal and play a part in another.

"I don't think that goal in itself will be enough for me to come into the team," said Fernandinho after that match.

"It was just the consequence of the hard work put in during the match. The important thing is that I performed my role, winning back the ball and starting moves."

Nevertheless, that performance appears to have pushed him to the forefront of Scolari's thoughts, while Paulinho has struggled to reproduce his excellent performances during last year's Confederations Cup.

The 25-year-old endured a difficult season with Tottenham and struggled with an ankle problem at the beginning of Brazil's World Cup preparations.

"They are players of great quality, with the same characteristics," said striker Fred at a press conference at the squad's Granja Comary training centre.

"The tactical set-up of our team will not change much. Paulinho tends to make more runs into the area without the ball, but they are similar players."

There were also indications at Thursday's session that Scolari could make alterations to his previously settled defence.

Right-back Daniel Alves, whose performances have been criticised, was replaced by Maicon at the interval, before centre-half David Luiz provided some cause for concern.

The Paris Saint-Germain player finished the session prematurely, making way for Dante, with the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) later confirming that he was suffering from a lower back strain.

It is not yet clear whether he will train with the rest of the squad in Belo Horizonte on Friday, but for the moment Brazil are hopeful he will be able to play on Saturday at the Mineirao.

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