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Neymar faces ‘crucial’ week as Real Madrid tie looms


Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino says Neymar is making “encouraging” progress ahead of the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid.

The Brazil star has been sidelined by an ankle injury since the end of November and will also miss Sunday’s trip to reigning Ligue 1 champions Lille.

Neymar, who turned 30 on Saturday, began running again late last month but has yet to return to full training, with La Liga leaders Madrid due at the Parc des Princes on February 15.

“His development is encouraging. Next week will be crucial to know his percentage of chance of being back with us against Real,” Pochettino said ahead of PSG’s game against Lille.

Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is expected to be fit for the visit of Madrid, but Sergio Ramos is a doubt to face his former club after suffering a recurrence of the calf injury that has blighted his first season in France.

Mauro Icardi has also been ruled out against Lille with a foot injury, while Keylor Navas trained separately Saturday following his return from World Cup qualifiers with Costa Rica.

Kylian Mbappe could start after overcoming a knock that saw him used as a substitute in Monday’s French Cup penalty shootout loss to Nice in the last 16.

Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria should both be available after international duty in South America. Achraf Hakimi is also in line to return following Morocco’s quarter-final exit at the Africa Cup of Nations.

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