Monday 23 October 2017

Uruguay under dark cloud over Suarez injury

Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez

Ian Herbert and Tom Peck

The Uruguay Football Association have issued a deeply pessimistic statement on Luis Suarez's prospects of facing England in their group match at the World Cup next month.

The AUF has declared only that "his participation at the World Cup has not been ruled out". Suarez underwent knee surgery on an injury sustained in the last game of Liverpool's season.

The kick, which leaves Suarez a doubt to start against Roy Hodgson's team in Brazil 27 days from now, was almost certainly delivered by Newcastle United's Paul Dummett, who was sent off after catching Suarez's left knee with his trailing leg in a clumsy challenge three minutes from time at Anfield on May 11.

Dummett, whose red card was later rescinded, last night found himself the victim of death threats on social media from Uruguay fans after the AUF effectively blamed Newcastle for Suarez's operation. The 22-year-old defender, who was called up by Wales yesterday for a friendly against the Netherlands on June 4, referred the threats to the football authorities.

INTENSE

Though Suarez's mother suggested her son would be back after two to three weeks following keyhole arthroscopy surgery on his right knee at a private hospital in Montevideo yesterday, the AUF provided no such assurances. It said Suarez had felt "an intense pain in his left knee" while warming up during the first training session with Oscar Tabarez's squad on Wednesday.

The AUF linked this to the blow on the same knee against Newcastle. Suarez sustained at least one other kick during that match.

The pain had subsided during the 11-day period of rest before Suarez joined the Uruguay squad, but it flared up again immediately he resumed football work. A three-week recovery period would mean Suarez returning eight days before England face Uruguay on 19 June, and the immediate dismay felt in the South American country yesterday reflected the national team's heavy dependence on the twin strike force of Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

The Uruguayans are taking heart from the fact that Suarez – who admitted last season that his desire to play means he starts Liverpool games less than fully fit – rapidly reaches full potential when he has been out of action.

After a 10-game suspension meant he missed the first six matches of last season, Suarez scored six times in five games. He started all but one of the season's remaining matches, in all competitions.

However, the problem on this occasion is that Suarez will be unable to do anything other than physiotherapy work in the next few weeks.

Leading knee surgeon Tim Spalding said that damage to the external meniscus on the outside of the knee, which Suarez has sustained, is potentially far more serious than a need to repair the internal meniscus. Quick returns to fitness are more typical when the internal meniscus has been damaged.

Hodgson, meanwhile, will be doing metaphorical backflips. There can be no denying the profound consequences of a less-than-fit Suarez, because Uruguay's entire team is still set up around him and Cavani.

An anguished Uruguay – where the AUF was coming under attack from journalists for its initial "wall of silence" over the Suarez operation – is holding its breath. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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