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 March 26, 2002 | 1124 IST

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Ronaldo back for Brazil after 30-month absence

Ronaldo, Brazil's injury-plagued striker, will on Wednesday play his first international since October 1999.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari confirmed on Monday that the Inter Milan marksman, who has not played a game at club level this year after the latest in a series of injuries, would face Yugoslavia in their World Cup warm-up match.

Scolari said it would be the first step towards deciding whether the twice former World Player of the Year could play at the World Cup after suffering two knee operations in two years followed by three muscular injuries in quick succession.

"The intention is to use Ronaldo for at least 45 minutes to observe the reaction of the team to Ronaldo, to see his own reaction as an athlete, and to see what could be added," Scolari said.

"Ronaldo is an unknown. Nobody knows if he will be in condition to play (at the World Cup)."

The striker's last appearance for his country was in a friendly away to the Netherlands in October 1999, and his last goal for Brazil was in the final of the Copa America against Uruguay three months before that.


Since then, injuries have threatened to wreck his career and he is desperate to prove his doubters that he can return to his best.

The 25-year-old made his Italian Serie A comeback with Inter last year after spending more than a year recovering from the second of his knee operations, only for the muscular problems to start.

Ronaldo was picked for a World Cup qualifier at home to Chile in October last year but pulled out of the squad when it was clear he was not fit to play.

He has not played at all since December 23 and underwent a one-month rehabilitation programme in Brazil last month in an attempt to shrug off the nagging injuries.

Ronaldo trained with Brazil on Monday at the Castelao stadium, though his participation in a practice match was timid and Scolari admitted the player "had a bit of difficulty."

Brazil's match against Yugoslavia is the first this year in which they will be able to pick from a full-strength team.

They have played three other games -- beating Bolivia 6-0 at home, Saudi Arabia 1-0 away and Iceland 6-1 at home -- but neither they nor their opponents were able to call on their best players.

Brazil have been drawn in group C for the World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan which start on May 31, alongside Turkey, China and Costa Rica.

Yugoslavia failed to qualify for the finals.

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