Thursday 22 February 2018

Luis Suarez tells England's Liverpool brigade he'll be fit and ready for them

Luis Suarez is determined to win his World Cup fitness race. Photo: REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Files
Luis Suarez is determined to win his World Cup fitness race. Photo: REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Files

Matt Law

Luis Suarez has sent texts to his Liverpool team-mates in the England squad to warn them he will be fit to face them in the World Cup finals.

The Uruguay striker underwent keyhole surgery last week on a knee injury he first suffered in Liverpool's final game of the season against Newcastle.

The problem has left him fighting to be fit to play in the World Cup finals, with Uruguay due to face England in their second Group D game on June 19.

However, Suarez has been in touch with some of his Liverpool friends in the England squad, who are preparing for Friday's Wembley send-off against Peru, to tell them that he expects to recover in time to play against them in Sao Paulo.

Asked if he had been in touch with Suarez, Jordan Henderson – one of five Liverpool players in Roy Hodgson's squad – said: "Yeah, of course. I gave him a text to see if he is doing all right and wished him good luck with whatever he has got to have done.

"I am sure, knowing the type of person he is, that he will be raring to go when the World Cup starts. He is a fighter."

Uruguay doctor Alberto Pan gave an optimistic update over the fitness of Suarez, but could not give assurances the 27-year-old will be ready to play in Brazil.

"We can happily say that Luis' participation in the World Cup is not ruled out," said Pan. "It is very risky to give exact dates. We cannot have absolute certainty or clear numbers, but the post-operative period has been very good.

"Luis is very positive. I never heard a negative expression and he says it is better every day. Today, Suarez is painless and is working on fitness."

Central defender Phil Jagielka said that England are assuming that Suarez, who scored 31 Premier League goals this season, will be fit to face them.

"We will have to prepare as if he is going to make it," said the Everton player.

"I am sure Uruguay have not qualified just because of what Luis Suarez has done, but to the same extent he can make a massive difference.

"If the teams you play don't have their best players, it is going to be a bit of a bonus. But we can't put our hopes and thoughts into him not making it. We have to think he will be there."

Henderson is expected to start for England in Brazil, despite not being selected for any of the World Cup qualifiers.

The 23-year-old has overcome a series of setbacks and obstacles since making his international debut against France in 2010 and had to wait more than three years for his next England start, against Denmark in March.

Joey Barton publicly criticised Henderson's inclusion in England's Euro 2012 squad, Alex Ferguson questioned the player's running style in his autobiography and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers considered selling him to Fulham last season.

"In football, you are going to have times where you have got to be strong and you have got to keep believing in your own ability," said Henderson.

"Everybody else would have done the same and all I do is just try to get on with it and work hard.

"I always believed I was a good enough player to be playing for England and Liverpool as well.

"There were a few people who did help me – the big players at Liverpool help you a lot when you're around them.

"But at the same time you have to deal with stuff like that on your own and try to get through it on your own. No one else can change it except yourself.

"There is no one more disappointed than us when we don't have a good game or are not playing well. I just had to keep working, battling and try and prove them wrong.

"My England debut was a reality check at the time. I'd been doing well for Sunderland and you want your England debut to go well.

DIFFICULT

"IT WAS A HARD GAME AND IT WAS DIFFICULT, BUT IT WAS AN EXPERIENCE I WOULDN'T CHANGE FOR THE WORLD. IT MADE A BIG IMPACT ON ME AND MADE ME STRONGER.

"When I started again against Denmark, I was more mature, I felt as if I'd improved. I was a different person."

Asked specifically about Ferguson's criticism, Henderson added: "It was a bit strange at first, I think everybody blew it up to be more than it was.

"But, looking back, I read what he had said and I took it as a bit of a compliment, to be honest. Because he said he was watching me and thinking about buying me, so I must have been doing something right at the time.

"That's how I took it. I didn't buy the book, no." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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