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 March 27, 2002 | 1355 IST

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Ronaldo sure of dispelling fitness doubts

Brazil striker Ronaldo is confident of dispelling doubts over his fitness when he lines up against Yugoslavia on Wednesday for his first international for two-and-a-half years.

Injury-plagued Ronaldo admitted that the friendly international was a big moment in his career but said he was in relaxed mood and ready to celebrate with some goals.

"I expect an excellent performance, I hope to score some goals or at least a goal," he told reporters on Tuesday at the Brazil team hotel.

Ronaldo (C) and Edilson Ferreira (R) and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari "It's the moment I've been waiting for, it's the chance to show that I'm fine and to remove the doubts that a lot of people have had."

Ronaldo, 25, had two operations on his knee in two years and then, after making his Serie A comeback for Inter Milan last year, suffered three muscular injuries in quick succession, the last on December 23.

He underwent a four-week fitness programme in February and March but although he returned to Italy two weeks ago claiming to have recovered, Inter have preferred not to risk him so far.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, however, knows that time is running out before the World Cup and said on Monday that Ronaldo would play at least 45 minutes against the East Europeans.

"I am sure everything will go well," said Ronaldo. "I feel fine psychologically, I have a lot of desire to go to the World Cup."

The former World Player of the Year recognised that he had to produce performances which justified his inclusion and that his World Cup place was not guaranteed.

"I hope to pay back the confidence Felipao (Scolari) has given me and show that I deserve to be in this group," he said.

"A player only wins his place by playing. I am very grateful to have been picked without playing, this shows the confidence the coach has in me but I know I will live up to expectations on the field."

Ronaldo played 55 internationals and scored 35 goals before his injury problems began in late 1999.

His last game was a friendly against the Netherlands in October 1999 and his last goal was in the Copa America final against Uruguay three months before that.

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