A broken finger is the latest calamity to befall Queens Park Rangers' Julio Cesar. The injury, which according to Mark Bowering of Goal.com, will keep him out for six to eight weeks, puts in further doubt the goalkeeper's dream of representing Brazil at 2014's home World Cup.
The ex-Inter man's misfortune is an equal blow for the Selecao, which would without a doubt be calling on a fit and in-form Cesar to spearhead their efforts just under a year from now.
The keeper was Luiz Felipe Scolari's first choice for the Confederations Cup, where he looked solid in only conceding three goals on the way to his side's first trophy since the same competition in 2009.
The way Cesar stayed rooted to his line for all three of those strikes, however, perhaps was a sign that the veteran keeper is not as sprightly as in his younger years. Sitting on the bench in England's Championship is not an ideal way to spend a World Cup season.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp, while admitting that his second-choice faced a dilemma, kept his faith in Cesar to keep his place in the Scratch:
It's a difficult situation with Julio and I'm surprised no one came in for him. I don't know whether Julio wants to sit on the bench. His dream is to play in the World Cup in Brazil and I don't think this will affect his situation.
The manager of Brazil thinks he's the No.1 man and I don't think anything that happens at QPR is going to change that for him.
For now, Redknapp's charge may be No. 1, but that position will be hard to maintain if he is condemned to a year of inactivity. Further injury makes it even harder for the experienced shot-stopper to fight for a place in the Loftus Road outfit. It makes the task of attracting a new club in the January transfer window—either on a permanent or loan basis—appear more remote than in preseason.
The upshot of this is Brazil heading into the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a home World Cup with a last line of defence out of practice and accustomed to warming the bench.
A glance at those below Cesar in the pecking order for Brazil does not throw up many alternatives. Botafogo keeper Jefferson is a capable performer, as is Diego Cavalieri, who has impressed for Fluminense week in and week out since returning from a fruitless Liverpool spell in 2011.
The fact that both keepers are 30 years old and boast a grand total of 10 caps between them, however, is stark evidence that their place in the Brazil setup is as reliable understudies. Napoli's Rafael is another option between the sticks, and at 23, he comes from several brilliant years manning the net for Santos in their most successful spell since the Pele era of the 1960s.
The youngster still has to find a way into the first team in Southern Italy, though. All indications suggest that 2014 will arrive perhaps one or two years early for a keeper who possesses bundles of potential.
So unless one of the challengers—Valencia's Diego Alves is another option, albeit apparently out of favour with Felipao—comes to the fore, Brazil's hopes between the sticks will lay with the QPR reserve, currently nursing his latest injury and waiting patiently to return.
Cesar's prestige and experience will keep him in contention for the Selecao whenever he is fit enough to take the field. But this setback can only be interpreted as a defensive blow for the hosts as they enter the final stretch of what has been an interminable World Cup preparation period.