SAO PAULO : Brazil coach Tite recalled Philippe Coutinho to the squad for the first time in a year on Friday as he prepares for World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Argentina without most of his home-based players.
With the Brazilian league and cup, plus the Copa Libertadores, all heading to a climax in November, Tite left out a series of regulars who play for Brazilian clubs and called up only one local player, Gremio goalkeeper Gabriel Chapeco.
He also omitted Everton striker Richarlison and Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr but welcomed back Liverpool frontman Roberto Firmino and Coutinho, the 29-year-old Barcelona midfielder who spent much of the last year injured.
“A great player is returning to his level,” Tite said of Coutinho. “It’s an opportunity for him to return ... as an articulator on the left.”
Brazil play Colombia in Sao Paulo on Nov. 11 and then go to San Juan five days later to face Argentina.
The Brazilians are top of the South American qualifying group, unbeaten after 11 games, and all but guaranteed a spot in next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ken Ferris)