Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said the door is still open for fringe players to force their way into his FIFA World Cup™ plans as he revealed his squad to face Korea Republic and Zambia in October friendlies.
Injuries have forced Scolari to leave experienced goalkeeper Julio Cesar and defender Thiago Silva off the roster for Brazil's match-up with Korea Republic in Seoul on 12 October 12 and against Zambia, three days later in Beijing.
In Cesar's absence, Scolari's 23-man squad includes Atletico Mineiro goalkeeper Victor, who has made only a handful of appearances to date for the Selecao. Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva also gets the nod for the first time since Scolari took over the reins ten months ago from Mano Menezes for a second spell at the helm.
Another who has not featured under the 2002 World Cup winner is Cruzeiro defender Dede, who has a dozen caps and has forced his way back into the reckoning.
"The group (making the eventual cut for the World Cup) is not yet closed," said Scolari, who in June led Brazil to the FIFA Confederations Cup title on home soil at the expense of world champions Spain.
Last week, he indicated several positions were up for grabs before he decides who is good enough to try and steer Brazil to a sixth world title. "These games are to provide opportunities," to fringe players, Scolari told a news conference, saying they had been picked based essentially on their club form.
But he still picked David Luiz, dropped at the weekend by Chelsea following the Londoners' surprise UEFA Champions League reverse to Basel.
Scolari would not be drawn on Luiz's recent woes, preferring to dwell on his pleasure that Neymar has found his feet at Barcelona following his summer move from Santos.
"It is interesting and good (to see him playing) in a team that doesn't play just for him," said Felipao. "His arrival at Barcelona gives him extra strength which he didn't have beforehand."
Finding the right mould
Having successfully come through the dress rehearsal for the World Cup with their convincing win over the Spaniards in Rio, Scolari said he would use the ten days he has his squad together to mull how best to shape a side worthy of another world title.
"We have a solid base already. (But) we have to work on our style, our overall foundation so that we maintain what we achieved at the Confederations Cup," said Scolari. The 64-year-old has endured recent failure at club level with Chelsea, where he lasted barely half a season in 2008-2009, and Palmeiras.
But he seems to have the midas touch with his country, having lifted the World Cup trophy in 2002.
Just seven of the squad are home-based, but Scolari is keen not to overburden Brazilian clubs already worried as to how they will cram all their league matches into a shortened schedule because of next June's jamboree.
Scolari signed off confident that he can take the heat of the massive expectations that come with leading a Brazil side in a first home World Cup tournament since 1950, when they lost the final to Uruguay - the Selecao had to wait until 1958 for their first triumph, inspired by Pele in Sweden.
"I have to say that I want to win the title. We only have one option - to get to the final and to win it," insisted Scolari.