Brazil have summoned eight Premier League players for October's World Cup qualifiers – and former Middlesbrough star Juninho is hopeful a deal will be struck to avoid more quarantine chaos.

Coach Tite called nine English-based stars for the last batch of internationals at the start of September, but none travelled, with top-flight English clubs refusing to release a number of players travelling to countries on the United Kingdom's travel red list.

Anyone returning from those countries would have been required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their return, regardless of vaccination status, which was an unacceptable situation for the clubs.

There are hopes that a deal can be struck to allow footballers to travel in bubble conditions, with Juninho pointing to talks involving the Premier League, world football's governing body FIFA and British government officials.

At one point last month it appeared the players who did not join their national teams could be obligated to miss club games, effectively as a punishment, but that threat eventually receded.

Some Premier League players did travel to their national teams, however, and Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, plus Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez, joined up with Argentina. They were then at the centre of incredible scenes in Sao Paulo when Brazilian health authority officials stormed onto the pitch to stop the Selecao's game against Argentina proceeding.

Brazil's travel rules demand individuals to isolate if they have been in the UK within 14 days of their arrival in the country.

The English-based contingent selected by Brazil for October's games includes captain Thiago Silva, goalkeepers Alisson and Ederson, Fred, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino. Everton's Richarlison misses out due to a knee injury, but Leeds United's Raphinha and Tottenham's Emerson Royal are in the squad.

Juninho, now a co-ordinator of the Brazil national team, said the players were selected this time because of the belief a solution could be found.

"There have been several meetings with FIFA, the Premier League and the British government," Juninho said, quoted on Brazilian sport website Lance.

"We trust that next week there will be a resolution on these cases."

Brazil travel to play Venezuela on October 7 and Colombia three days later, before a home clash in Manaus against Uruguay on October 14.

The players are due to assemble in Bogota, Colombia, on October 4. Brazil's eight wins from eight have put them firmly at the front of the race to qualify for next year's finals in Qatar.

 

Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Danilo (Juventus), Emerson Royal (Tottenham), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Lucas Verissimo (Benfica); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool), Gerson (Marseille), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon), Edenilson (Internacional); Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Antony (Ajax), Raphinha (Leeds United), Gabi (Flamengo), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Central and South American players who were barred from travelling to World Cup qualifiers by their Premier League teams will be available this weekend after their countries backed down from a request to ban them under FIFA rules. 

Players from Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Paraguay are cleared to play as their national federations agreed late Friday to waive a measure that would have compelled the players to sit out after their clubs refused to release them for international duty. 

Premier League teams last month decided to prevent players from nations on the United Kingdom's COVID-19 "red list" to participate in Qatar 2022 qualifiers, citing the UK's requirement that people who have travelled to those countries quarantine for 10 days upon their return. 

There had been some indications earlier Friday that the players might be available, but official word did not come down until shortly before midnight London time. 

Brazilians now available to their clubs Saturday include Ederson and Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City, Chelsea's Thiago Silva and Manchester United's Fred. 

Among players from other nations involved, Wolves can use Mexico's Raul Jimenez on Saturday, while Newcastle will have Paraguay's Miguel Almiron available, and Watford can play Chile's Francisco Sierralta 

Liverpool will be most relieved, with Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino cleared to face Raphina and Leeds on Sunday. 

Earlier Friday, Jurgen Klopp said at a news conference that he hoped a solution could be reached for the benefit of all parties involved. 

"It is a really difficult situation and really tricky for all the clubs, and the players especially," Klopp said. "We should not forget at this moment that the players wanted to play these games, the clubs wanted to let the players go but it was not possible."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit out at the "farcical" situation that could prevent Brazil international Fred from playing for Manchester United this weekend.

United blocked Fred from joining up with his national side for their triple-leader of September World Cup qualifiers due to Brazil being on the United Kingdom's travel red list amid the coronavirus pandemic.

That would mean players having to isolate in a hotel for a minimum of 10 days upon their return, ruling them out for at least three matches.

However, the ​Brazilian Football Confederation has asked FIFA to enforce a law that would block players not released from representing their countries for at least five days.

Should that be the case, Fred will not be available for selection to face Newcastle United on Saturday, although United are still waiting on official confirmation.

Solskjaer has now joined Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, who are also set to be without some key players over the coming days, in calling on FIFA to show some common sense.

"It is a lose, lose, lose situation for everyone, national teams, players, clubs," he said at a pre-match news conference on Friday. "It has been a farce. 

"The players want to play. We know the situation we find ourselves in. We've had to try and find a way, but all the decisions have gone against the players.

"I'm disappointed with the whole thing. We need to prepare without Fred but fingers crossed some sense can come into it and we can use him."

Fred has started all three games for United so far this season and is second only to defender Harry Maguire (152) for successful passes (133), while only Aaron Wan-Bissaka (five) has intercepted the ball more times than the Brazilian (four).

While the 28-year-old's availability remains uncertain, Solskjaer confirmed returning forward Cristiano Ronaldo is in line for his second debut this weekend.

In further good news for United, who have seven points from the first nine on offer, Jadon Sancho is also available despite withdrawing from the England squad with a knock.

"Jadon has come back in with a minor problem but he's trained the last couple of days," Solskjaer said. 

"He's disappointed he couldn't play for England but determined to be fit and he’s available. So that's a positive. 

"The international break, we didn't get anyone injured.

"Luke [Shaw], Harry [Maguire] and Victor [Lindelof] played late on Wednesday night so they've not had a lot of recovery but they will be available, I think."

United have lost just one of their last 36 home league games against Newcastle (W26 D9), with that defeat coming in December 2013 when David Moyes was in charge.

The Red Devils have scored at least once in each of their last 14 Premier League home games, meanwhile, netting 40 times in total (2.9 per game).

Manchester United had a "great season" in 2020-21 despite their trophy drought stretching to four years, midfielder Fred said.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side finished in the top two of the Premier League for only the second time since Alex Ferguson retired after securing the title in 2012-13.

However, the Red Devils were 12 points adrift of Manchester City, who also defeated them in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup, while their FA Cup campaign was ended by Leicester City at the quarter-final stage.

After dropping out of the Champions League following defeats in their final two group games to Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig, United reached the final of the Europa League, ending a run of four consecutive semi-final defeats in cup competitions under Solskjaer.

They could not end their wait for silverware, though, goalkeeper David de Gea missing the crucial penalty in a shoot-out with Villarreal following a goalless draw in Gdansk.

That failure to win the final prompted questions over Solskjaer's long-term suitability to the manager's job despite the Norwegian having improved United's league campaign compared with 2019-20, when United won three games fewer, scored seven fewer goals and finished on 66 points, a massive 33 behind champions Liverpool.

Fred sees reason to be optimistic about the future, insisting United can be happy with their efforts given their involvement in last term's rearranged Europa League semi-finals meant they had no proper pre-season.

"We had the Europa League semi-final, which prolonged last season," he told United's website. "We didn't have a pre-season and got better and better over the season and reached the final.

"I think overall the team's had a great season, we could have achieved more, we wanted to win more trophies, but I think generally it's been a great season."

Fred, who is with the Brazil squad preparing for the Copa America, made 48 appearances in all competitions in 2020-21, a tally surpassed by only six United players.

"It's really important to me to be starting in games, to be in the 11," he said. "I've played and started in a lot of games this season. I'm really happy with this, happy to have been in good form and having a great season together with the entire team.

"As I've already said, I want much more, more trophies with United, I want to achieve a lot here and I'm sure there's a lot more to come."

Manchester United midfielder Fred has been called up to the Brazil squad for the first time since 2018 for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers with Ecuador and Paraguay.

The most recent of Fred's 11 senior international caps came in a 2-0 friendly win over Saudi Arabia two and a half years ago.

He has featured regularly for club side United once again this season, however, and has been included in Brazil's 24-man squad for their next set of Qatar 2022 qualifying fixtures.

Fred wrote on Twitter: "A great joy to represent my country again. Always proud to be called up. Let's go again!"

The 28-year-old was criticised by a number of pundits for his performance in Thursday's 4-2 Premier League defeat to Liverpool, but United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has regularly stood by the midfielder.

Fred has attempted 3.08 tackles per 90 minutes in the Premier League this term, the sixth highest average among all players to have played at least 20 times.

His 59.04 successful passes per 90 minutes, meanwhile, is behind only Nemanja Matic (76.56) in terms of United players to have played eight or more league games in 2020-21.

The ex-Shakhtar Donetsk player's passing has also improved during his time at Old Trafford, with Paul Pogba (9.47) the only United regular averaging more passes into the final third than Fred's 9.41 per game.

Asked at a news conference on Friday about his decision to recall Fred, Brazil head coach Tite said: "He has been included because of his high-level performances at United, the team that is second in the Premier League."

Fred is joined in the squad by veteran full-back Dani Alves, who last featured for Brazil in October 2019, while Lucas Paqueta, Gabriel Barbosa and Everton Ribeiro are also included.

The Selecao were last in action six months ago when seeing off Uruguay 2-0 to make it four wins from four in their CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying group.

The fifth and sixth rounds of fixtures were scheduled to take place in March, but all the games were called off due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Brazil are gearing up for a busy period as the Copa America - originally due to be held last year - takes place between June 13 and July 10.

Tite will name his squad for the tournament on June 9 and is hoping to continue building momentum over the next couple of games.

"We have a very high expectation," Tite said. "It is a difficult moment for everyone. These games give us a chance to be in contact with the players.

"We will look at continuing with our performances and results. Right now it is only possible to think about these two games and nothing else."


Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Alex Sandro (Juventus), Dani Alves (Sao Paulo), Danilo (Juventus), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Renan Lodi (Atletico Madrid), Lucas Verissimo (Benfica), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Chelsea); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon); Everton (Benfica), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Richarlison (Everton), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Manchester United midfielder Fred says "we cannot feed that culture" after being racially abused on social media following Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final loss to Leicester City.

The 28-year-old received numerous abusive messages on an Instagram post after gifting possession to Kelechi Iheanacho in the build-up to Leicester's opening goal in the 3-1 defeat. 

Fred is the latest United player to be targeted, with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe also subjected to similar comments in recent weeks.

Brazil international Fred took to Twitter on Monday to post: "Social media comments filled with hate and, above all, racism: we cannot feed that culture. 

"We cannot aceppt (sic) it. We have to fight it always. We are bigger and better than that. Enough!"

United recently condemned the abuse directed at their players by "mindless idiots", while Rashford last month urged social media companies to take stronger action against those responsible.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pinned the blame for Manchester United's limp FA Cup exit on his side's hectic schedule as they suffered a 3-1 quarter-final loss at Leicester City.

United were beaten by a double from in-form Kelechi Iheanacho and one from Youri Tielemans at the King Power Stadium as the Foxes secured just a second victory over the Red Devils in 26 meetings in all competitions.

Mason Greenwood's first-half leveller – his first goal in 16 games – ended up being a mere consolation for the visitors as Brendan Rodgers marked his 100th game in charge by leading Leicester to their first FA Cup semi-final since 1982.

For United, it was a first away defeat in domestic competition since January 19 last year, with manager Solskjaer citing a busy fixture list that has recently included a tough two-legged Europa League tie with Milan.

"We didn't have the spark, but it's understandable," he told BBC Sport. "This team have been fantastic in the last three or four months. We played every three days and have been on a great run. It just caught up with us, all the games and travel.

"Thursday night in Milan was a big night and took a lot of out of us physically. We didn't have the extra zip, authority and confidence.

"We tried to get on the front foot and start well because sometimes you can get that adrenaline boost and confidence if you get a goal and that can carry you over the line.

"We've got too many players that have played too many games and too many that haven't really had much football; Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba and others are trying to get in who haven't had enough football. We didn't have enough against a tough team."

The first goal came about after a woeful mistake from Fred, whose attempted pass back to Dean Henderson gifted former Manchester City striker Iheanacho a simple finish.

But the Norwegian refused to point the finger at any individuals, insisting such mistakes come with the territory of playing out from deep.

"We want to build from the back and want the players to be confident," he said. "Sometimes it doesn't work and that's one time it didn't.

"When we win, we win together, and when we lose, we lose together. We're not pointing fingers and blaming.

"The second one is a good goal by the boy but maybe with a zip of energy we could've got to him and wouldn't have been done as easily in the middle.

"That's been one of our strengths, keeping clean sheets and being dogged, but we didn't have the opportunity."

Solskjaer is now looking ahead to what remains of United's season, which still holds the prospect of continental silverware and a shot at sealing second spot in the Premier League.

"We've got the Europa League and Premier League to concentrate on," he said. "Yes, we would've liked to go to Wembley, but now all the focus is on the games we do have.

"We're in a good position in the league and we want to keep improving; of course, Leicester are just behind us, so it won't be easy, but we want to keep going and get as far as possible in the Europa as well."

Leicester City reached the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1982 after a 3-1 win over Manchester United in Sunday's quarter-final clash.

Two goals from Kelechi Iheanacho and one from Youri Tielemans were enough to give the Foxes only a second victory over the Red Devils in 26 meetings in all competitions.

United, who levelled in the first half through Mason Greenwood before Tielemans' fine winner, looked well short of their best for much of a contest for which they made five changes from their Europa League win in Milan three days earlier.

Iheanacho headed in a third 13 minutes from time to make certain of victory as United lost an away match in domestic competition for the first time since January 19 last year.

Fred had twice lost possession in United's half before his dreadful backpass to goalkeeper Dean Henderson gifted Iheanacho an easy finish.

Despite their changes, United played like a team struggling with fatigue in the first half, as Leicester pressed them into errors without managing to take full advantage.

It was therefore something of a surprise when the visitors levelled seven minutes before the break. Pogba's low cross from the left was dummied superbly by Donny van de Beek, giving Greenwood the chance to smash home his first goal in 16 appearances.

Leicester regained their lead in prompt fashion in the second half, though, Tielemans drilling a fine shot beyond the reach of Henderson after drifting easily away from Nemanja Matic and Fred.

Jamie Vardy should have made it 3-1, skipping beyond Harry Maguire only to drag a shot wide of the left-hand post with only Henderson to beat, prompting Solskjaer to make four changes to breathe life into United's display.

It was one of those substitutes, Scott McTominay, who conceded a cheap free-kick near the box and then allowed Iheanacho to drift behind him to nod home Marcus Albrighton's delivery.

 

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