Panic: Marcelo gestures over his injured teammate Neymar.

Panic: Marcelo gestures over his injured teammate Neymar. Photo: Reuters

Brazil's star striker Neymar cried "I can't feel my legs" after the World Cup challenge by Colombia's Juan Zuniga that has ended his tournament, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told Spanish sports daily Marca.

Scolari said the whole team panicked after the knee in the back tackle during Brazil's quarter-final victory over Colombia.

Left back Marcelo was first to reach the striker, who suffered a fractured vertebra that has ruled him out of the World Cup, after the challenge.

Juan Zuniga denies trying to deliberately trying to hurt Neymar.

Juan Zuniga denies trying to deliberately trying to hurt Neymar. Photo: AP

Marcelo knelt next to Neymar and asked how he felt, according to Scolari.

"He replied: 'I can't feel my legs,'" added the coach.

Marcelo shouted for the team doctor, but doctors are not allowed onto the pitch.

Neymar screamed "I can't feel my legs" after the challenge.

Neymar screamed "I can't feel my legs" after the challenge. Photo: AP

"Marcelo was scared and called the doctor on but the doctor couldn't get on in the confusion. It was a big shock, the image of Neymar being stretchered off to the helicopter, in difficulty, crying," Scolari was quoted as saying.

Team doctor Jose Luiz Runco said that Marcelo's calls for the doctor had caused the panic after the challenge.

"We've lost the one player we didn't want to lose ahead of the semi-finals and the final," Scolari said of the "disastrous" loss.

Willian: the Chelsea man has been tipped to replace Neymar.

Willian: the Chelsea man has been tipped to replace Neymar. Photo: AFP

Neymar was stretchered off in the 88th minute of the game and rushed to hospital where the fracture of the third vertebra was confirmed.

The 22-year-old Barcelona striker has since taken a few steps but the team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar has said it will take from four to six weeks to recover.

FIFA is investigating the tackle by Zuniga who could face action. The Colombian defender has apologised but insisted he had not intended to hurt Neymar.

Scolari has hinted in training that midfielder Willian is his first option to replace Neymar in Brazil's World Cup semi-final against Germany.

Willian took Neymar's position when Brazil's reserves played against a local under-20 squad at its training camp outside Rio de Janeiro.

The other options for Scolari include Ramires, Bernard and Hernanes.

"You can't compare Neymar to any other player, he has a lot of quality," Willian said. "I have a different style. He is more of a striker, scores more goals, while my strong suit is to set up my teammates."

The Chelsea player left practice near the end of Saturday's session because of a hit on the back but said the injury was not a problem even though it "was still bothering" him a bit.

Bernard said he is prepared to play but acknowledged it won't be easy to replace the team's biggest star.

"It's a difficult situation," he said. "No player would want to have this opportunity to play because of an injury to someone so important to us on and off the field. But it happened, and we have to understand that we can get through this."

In addition to missing Neymar, Brazil will not be able to count on captain and central defender Thiago Silva because of a yellow card suspension. Dante, who plays in Germany for Bayern Munich, is his likely replacement. Fellow defender David Luiz is the probable captain on Tuesday.

The Brazilian football confederation is trying to overturn Silva's suspension and FIFA said it was analysing the request, but it remained unlikely Brazil would get its way.

AFP