Brazil left sweating on Richarlison's fitness ahead of the 2022 World Cup, but could turn to Arsenal star Gabriel Jesus | The Sun

Brazil’s coaching staff will be anxiously waiting for the news from North London.

How serious is the calf injury suffered by Richarlison playing for Tottenham against Everton on Saturday?

He limped out of the game and cut a very worried figure afterwards when, on crutches, he talked briefly to the Brazilian press.

While still with Everton he suffered a similar injury, which kept him out of action for two months – and that is too long for a competition that kicks off in just over a month’s time.

The hope, then, is that the problem is not so grave this time round. Missing out on Qatar would be a huge blow to the player – and also a huge blow to his team, because in recent months Richarlison has made himself vital to Brazil’s cause.

For most of last season, the team did extremely well without him. He paid the price for playing both the Copa America and the Olympic tournament in the middle of last year, eating up all of his summer break.

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Not surprisingly, fitness and form suffered for much of the Premier League campaign.  Meanwhile, Raphinha made a dramatic introduction to international football on Brazil's right wing, and Vinicius Junior exploded as a global star on the left.

Brazil piled up the wins, and it seemed likely that the team would go to Qatar with a formation featuring two wingers and Neymar as a floating false nine.

But in the last few months there has been a shift – and Richarlison has been the game changer. There was a feeling in Brazil’s coaching staff that the team was lacking some penalty area presence.

They had plenty of people to set up the play, but they needed a specialist finisher. And so Richarlison, by now back to his best, was given his chance.

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And in the last six games he has scored seven goals. The only time he did not get on the scoresheet he came off the bench away to Japan and won the penalty that allowed Neymar to give Brazil a 1-0 victory.

Richarlison, then, has been functioning well in the team. He is an uncomplicated player.

Like a racehorse with blinkers, he only has eyes for the finish line, and his characteristics have dovetailed perfectly with those of the rest of the team. They make the bullets, he fires them.

If the medical news is bad, then what will Brazil do? One option is to go back to the idea of playing with two wingers and Neymar as a false nine, but bringing in another centre forward is more likely.

Pedro of Flamengo is a contender, and will count on plenty of local support as one of the few home-based players in the squad. He is a technically gifted target man, but lacks pace.

Matheus Cunha of Atletico Madrid is a possibility, but is still searching for his first goal for the senior side.

The most likely replacement is Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus, left out of the last squad but surely a certainty for Qatar. By his own account, his career suffered from the trauma of failing as a centre forward in the last World Cup.

But the change of club has done wonders for his confidence, and after running away from the challenge of being a number nine, he is now up for it once more.

His recent record for Brazil Is poor – one goal in the last 20 games, and a last competitive goal coming more than three years ago.

But now he has assimilated the experience of the past he is surely a better player for the experience.

He is less of a pure penalty area specialist than Richarlison. But if the Tottenham man cannot recover in time, North London will still have a key role to play in Brazil’s World Cup front line.

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