Liverpool remain hopeful Luis Suarez will be able to play a part in the opening fixtures of their Premier League campaign despite the striker's exertions in helping Uruguay win the Copa America less than three weeks before the start of the domestic English season.
The 24-year-old, named the most valuable player in the tournament, scored one and created another as Uruguay beat Paraguay 3-0 in Buenos Aires on Sunday night to claim a record 15th title and later joined his team-mates and 35,000 delirious fans to celebrate the victory at Montevideo's Estadio Centenario.
Suarez will now be granted a break by his club to relax after the three-week tournament, but it is thought he may cut short his stay in his homeland to return to England in order to be ready for Liverpool's opening game with Sunderland on August 13 at Anfield or Kenny Dalglish's team's trip to Arsenal a week later.
The forward is expected to remain in Montevideo to mark the first birthday of his daughter Delfina on August 5 but relatives say he is not expected to visit his hometown of Salto, on the Argentinian border, so as to enable him to return to England more quickly.
Dalglish and Liverpool's medical staff will consult with the player to make sure he's ready to play but the two-week break he was afforded before the Copa America, as well as the seven-week hiatus he endured from November last year to January -- thanks to a ban for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal and the Dutch winter break -- mean he may return to action without the full three-week break for which he is entitled.
Such is Suarez's profile after a remarkable first six months on Merseyside -- and his stunning Copa America -- that Dalglish will be certain not to risk the former Ajax player's long-term health. The Uruguayan had already emerged as Liverpool's new crown jewel and his performances in Argentina have marked him out as one of world football's rising stars.
The player himself was typically sanguine about individual praise, insisting that the Player of the Tournament trophy belonged to his team.
"Individual prizes are for the team," he said. "This team has given a huge effort. We showed what we achieved last year in South Africa was no fluke.
"Uruguay has achieved great things, but does not have to forget how to win titles. We've had a few hard years, but have shown we are a great nation."
Liverpool could loan Alberto Aquilani to Fiorentina next season in a bid to clear his £70,000-a-week wages from their books. Dalglish must trim his squad before further strengthening, with Suarez's compatriots Diego Godin and Alvaro Pereira among his possible targets. (© Daily Telegraph, London)