RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil have included Casemiro in their squad for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Argentina and Peru even though the Real Madrid midfielder has not played since fracturing his leg in September.
Coach Tite said on Friday they are hopeful the 24-year-old will be fit but have also included Sao Paulo's Rodrigo Caio as back-up for the games against Argentina in Belo Horizonte on Nov. 10 and then in Lima against Peru five days later.
"Rodrigo Caio is a versatile player," Tite said. "He is originally a center back but he has played a lot in that (midfield) position for his club and also for the Olympic team."
The Argentina game will be Brazil's first at the Mineirao stadium since the fateful 7-1 defeat by Germany in the World Cup semi-final two years ago, but Tite was confident the psychological scars have healed.
"That's a fact but it is also a fact that two years have passed," he said. "It serves as part of the maturing process. We have another team. But the circumstances are different and the moment is different. You learn from the past."
The former Corinthians coach has led Brazil to four consecutive victories since taking over in June and they now sit top of South America's 10-team qualifying group.
Argentina have won only one of their four qualifiers since Edgardo Bauza took over as boss on Aug. 1 and they have slipped to fifth place in the standings after three games without a win.
"My first Brazil-Argentina and I don't have adjectives," the Brazil coach added. "It is a dream come true. Maybe honor is the right word."
The top four South American teams qualify automatically for Russia 2018 and the fifth place side goes into a playoff with a team from Oceania.
Goalkeepers: Allison (AS Roma), Alex (Flamengo), Weverton (Atletico Paranaense)
Defenders: Gil (Shandong), Marquinhos (PSG), Miranda (Inter Milan), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Thiago Silva (PSG), Daniel Alves (Juventus), Fagner (Corinthians), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid) Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Giuliano (Zenit St Petersburg), Lucas Lima (Santos), Paulinho (Guanghzou), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Renato Augusto (Beijing), Willian (Chelsea)
Forwards: Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras), Neymar (Barcelona)
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Toby Davis)