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Reds ready to put 2014 behind them

Liverpool
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By ESPN Staff

Brazil opt for youth in friendlies

Ronaldinho, Kaka, Robinho and Ramires were not included in the Brazil squad for four upcoming friendlies, with coach Mano Menezes giving priority to players who will feature at this summer's London Olympics.

Neymar, who this week became Santos' top scorer of the post-Pele era, was selected to spearhead the Selecao along with club colleague Paulo Henrique Ganso, Sao Paulo's Lucas and Internacional's Leandro Damiao for the games against Denmark, the United States, Mexico and Argentina.

Other players who won the Under-20 World Cup last year - such as Tottenham's defender Bruno Uvini, Internacional's Oscar and Sao Paulo's Casemiro - also received call-ups.

Ronaldinho was expected to be included in Menezes' 23-man group as he is considered a contender to be one of the three over-age players in the Olympic team, but the 32-year-old forward is not having a good season with Flamengo.

The former Barcelona and AC Milan player reportedly does not have a good relationship with new Brazilian Football Confederation president Jose Maria Marin, but Marin denied having influenced Menezes' decision.

"I didn't talk to anybody before they made the list," he said. "I didn't make any suggestion or give any insinuation. They had complete freedom to build it."

Menezes insisted Ronaldinho was still in with a chance of going to London.

"He's not in a good phase, but I'm not saying that this means he's out," the Brazil boss said. "He's one of those great players that can spring a surprise. I can't make the mistake of thinking he won't be able to help. We can't do that with someone with such a history of winning."

Chelsea midfielder Ramires was also expected to have been picked, but Menezes' only went for six players over the age of 23 - Ramires' Blues colleague David Luiz along with Daniel Alves, Marcelo, Jefferson, Thiago Silva and Hulk.

Brazil squad: Jefferson (Botafogo), Neto (Fiorentina), Rafael (Santos); Alex Sandro (Porto), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Danilo (Porto), Bruno Uvini (Tottenham), David Luiz (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Juan (Inter Milan); Casemiro (Sao Paulo), Romulo (Vasco da Gama), Sandro (Tottenham), Ganso (Santos), Lucas (Sao Paulo), Oscar (Internacional), Giuliano (Dnipro-UCR); Neymar (Santos), Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Wellington Nem (Fluminense), Hulk (Porto).

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