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World Cup

  • June 19, 2014
  • • 20:00
  • • Arena Corinthians, São Paulo, São Paulo
  • Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
  • • Attendance: 62575
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Uruguay-England Preview: Suarez facing fitness race ahead of Group D crunch

Uruguay-England Preview: Suarez facing fitness race ahead of Group D crunch

Everything for the South American side hinges on the return of their star striker, as England contemplate an early exit unless they avoid defeat

Even before they were humiliated by Costa Rica in their opening game, Uruguay knew that Luis Suarez’s fitness would be key to their hopes of qualifying from Group D.

That 3-1 loss in Fortaleza leaves Oscar Tabarez sweating more than ever on his star striker’s recovery after knee surgery, and the Liverpool talisman has admitted he was frustrated at being unable to play in his side’s opener but insists he will not take to the field against England unless he is fully fit.

Tabarez has concerns elsewhere too, though. Maxi Pereira’s rash challenge in the dying moments of Saturday’s defeat mean he is ruled out through suspension, while the space granted to Joel Campbell in particular could spark a change at the back.

The Uruguay boss will also be without experienced centre-back Diego Lugano, although his form has been faltering lately.

In comparison, Roy Hodgson has much less on his mind, even taking into account the continued questions over Wayne Rooney’s role in the side.

The Manchester United forward started from the left in the defeat to Italy, but the England boss has been pushed decide whether he could get more out of his No.10 by switching him into the centre.

One thing Hodgson will be boosted by is the return to fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who trained on Monday following his recovery from a knee injury.

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Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Players to Watch
Luis Suárez
Luis Suárez
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
2 2 0 0
The Liverpool striker claims that he if he starts Thursday’s game, that will be because he is fully fit. And Uruguay can only hope that to be the case, with their side’s future in the competition hanging by a thread. If the star man can replicate anything like his best form with the Merseysiders last season, then Tabarez’s men have every right to believe in their chances. But without Suarez at 100 per cent, they are a very different proposition.
Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
3 1 0 0
While Wayne Rooney continues to hog the headlines, Daniel Sturridge has already proven that he can adapt to the big stage with the minimum of fuss. With plenty of support coming from around him in Roy Hodgson’s adventurous formation, the former Chelsea man could benefit once more from a new all-round potency in the front six of the England side. And Liverpool fans know from their successful Premier League campaign that when he’s on fire, he can be very hard to stop.
Prediction
While both sides went down to defeat on Saturday, there were very different responses to the losses. England were rightly encouraged by their performance against Italy, whereas there was nothing short of devastation from the Uruguay camp following their reverse to Costa Rica. With Luis Suarez unlikely to be fully firing and changes needed elsewhere, the Celeste come into their second match very much on the back foot. A flair-filled, confident England could take fruitful advantage.
Editor's Prediction

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