Manchester: Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho is hoping to enhance his World Cup chances by impressing against Chelsea’s fellow Brazilians in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday.
The 28-year-old earned a recall to the national squad this week for a friendly against South Africa next month after a two-year absence.
It will be a chance to impress coach Luiz Felipe Scolari before he announces the squad that will attempt to win the World Cup on home turf later this year.
Scolari will almost certainly keep a close eye on Sunday’s game as the Chelsea squad has a backbone of Brazilian talent in David Luiz, Ramires, Oscar and Willian.
And Fernandinho, who joined City from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk last June, has made it clear that winning over Scolari, who had a short, unsuccessful spell as Chelsea manager in the 2008-09 season, was high on his list of priorities.
“It is a dream for me to play in the World Cup in my country,” said Fernandinho, who has won five caps for Brazil. “It is maybe the most important thing in my career.
“The next one in Brazil might be in a 100 years. It’s the only opportunity. I put in my head that if I played well for Manchester City, then I had a chance to get myself back in the national team.
“After a few months with good performances by myself and by my team-mates, it shows they have paid attention in Brazil.
“The Brazilian players at Chelsea sent me messages and congratulated me. They said I deserved this call-up by the national team. And we are friends, so they say I deserved it and I thanked them.”
City manager Manuel Pellegrini will check on the fitness of centre-back Matija Nastasic (knee), striker Sergio Aguero (hamstring) and midfielder Samir Nasri (knee).
The Chelsea side that starts the game at the Etihad Stadium is likely to resemble only slightly the one that won 1-0 there in the Premier League on February 3.
Gary Cahill is set to be rested because of a calf problem and fellow centre-back John Terry has still not fully recovered from a muscle injury sustained in training.
That forced the former England captain to miss the 3-0 home win against Newcastle United on Saturday and the 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old could play against City if asked, but it is expected that manager Jose Mourinho will give him extra hours to recover, with a home league game with Everton scheduled for February 22 plus a Champions League trip to Galatasaray four days later.
Mourinho is likely to switch Branislav Ivanovic — who scored the only goal at the Etihad in the Premier League encounter — from right-back to central defence alongside David Luiz.
That would open the door for a rare start for England veteran Ashley Cole, with the man currently keeping him out of the side, Cesar Azpilicueta, expected to switch from left-back to fill the slot on the right.
Defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic is doubtful after being hurt in the West Brom match and Mourinho is expected to keep other first-choice picks fresh for league and European action.
That could see experienced duo John Mikel Obi and Frank Lampard handed recalls in midfield, along with Andre Schurrle, new signing Mohammad Salah, and Fernando Torres further up the pitch.
It would allow Mourinho to rest Ramires, Oscar and Samuel Eto’o, but he may be tempted to stick with Eden Hazard after the Belgian masterminded Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over City earlier in the month.
The 23-year-old’s impressive form has led his national team coach Marc Wilmots to label him a world number one in waiting.
“I’d put him on my podium for the Ballon d’Or because he totally convinced me of his talent,” Wilmots said. “If you ask me if I want [Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo or Neymar, I’d keep Hazard.”