FORTALEZA, June 14: Uruguay will give star striker Luis Suarez every chance to prove his fitness less than a month after having knee surgery ahead of their World Cup opener with Costa Rica in Fortaleza on Saturday.
The Premier League Player of the Year had an operation to repair damage to the meniscus in his left knee on May 22, but has remained steadfast in his determination to feature in Brazil.
“I want to tell everyone that the recovery is going very well and that the knee feels good. Everything depends on how things go day-by-day, but it is going well,” Suarez said via his official Twitter account.
“I want to thank you all for the messages of support I have received throughout the week and my mind is now focused on the World Cup.”
However, with tougher tests on paper in England and Italy to come for the 2010 semi-finalists later in Group D, coach Oscar Tabarez may be tempted to give his star man a few extra days to recover.
“If it was down to me then Suarez would play,” said Tabarez.
“His path from the under 20 side to now has been incredible, but first we just think about him as a person rather than a footballer and protect him. Then we can go step-by-step and we are getting closer to the dream that he will be with us.”
Should Suarez not start then the Golden Ball winner from four years ago, Diego Forlan, will join Paris Saint-Germain’s Edison Cavani in attack.
Forlan returned to training on Thursday after missing a session earlier in the week due to a stomach problem.
The only other doubt for Tabarez is whether to start Espanyol’s Cristian Stuani or Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez on the right side of the attack.
Ramirez started in recent friendly wins over Northern Ireland and Slovenia, but Stuani came off the bench to score in both those matches and looks the favourite to start.
Costa Rica, meanwhile, come into the competition as huge underdogs as they have been grouped alongside three previous World Cup winners.
The Central Americans’ task has been made even more difficult by injuries to key players as full-back Heiner Mora joined Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio and Everton’s Bryan Oviedo in missing out on the tournament.
But captain Bryan Ruiz insisted they won’t be overawed by their opponents.
“Everything is ready for Saturday,” he said. “We know what the team will be, the tactics we will use and also what we have to do during the game.
“There is a lot of motivation and, despite knowing that a point would be good, we don’t want to settle and we will look for the three points.”