The Uruguay star is still questionable for Thursday's match against England despite recovering 'very well' from a knee injury.
SAO PAULO – Luis Suarez was the last of the Uruguay players to jog onto the pitch Wednesday afternoon at Arena Corinthians, and he surely made an entrance. A soccer ball was resting in his path, so he stepped toward it, swung his right leg and launched a shot that traveled 30 yards and settled sweetly into an open goal.
“He usually scores,” said Henry Winter, noted soccer writer of London’s Telegraph.
Of course, it’s the left leg everyone’s concerned about. Suarez has not played a competitive game since Liverpool ended its Premier League season May 11. Early in training for the Uruguay national team, he complained of soreness in his left knee, and he underwent surgery that put his participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in question.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez would not commit to starting Suarez Thursday against England in what, at least, is a must-not-lose Group D game for both teams. Suarez did not appear in his country’s 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, with England falling a few hours later to Italy.
“If he plays (Thursday), there is the possibility he might not be the same as he was in the Premier League,” Tabarez said at the pre-match press conference. “He has recovered very well. His knee seems to have adapted to the training. He’s been training and playing with his teammates during this last week. Obviously, a training session is not the same as a game.”
During the 15 minutes of Uruguay training media were permitted to watch as Suarez took part in various drills that required him to stretch for balls and move quickly. He seemed to have no issues.
Suarez is considered one of the top players in the world following his 2013-14 season with Liverpool, which began with him serving the remainder of a suspension that started the previous season for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and ended with Suarez having scored 31 goals in 33 appearances. He scored 11 times in 13 World Cup qualifiers in 2013, though Uruguay still had to go through a playoff against Jordan to earn its berth in this tournament after finishing fifth in CONMEBOL qualifying.
As important as Suarez is, he is not the only injury issue for Uruguay. Captain Diego Lugano, a center back who played in England with West Bromwich Albion last season, has been ruled out of the game according to the Uruguay federation. The team also will be without right back Maxi Pereira as the result of a red card he earned late in the Costa Rica game for a kick to the leg of forward Joel Campbell.
“I’m always willing to do my best to defend our national team,” forward Edinson Cavani said. “If they want to win against us, they have to fight.”