URUGUAY striker Luis Suarez said last night he felt “100 per cent” recovered from knee treatment and was ready to face England in Thursday’s Group D showdown in Sao Paulo if called upon.
The prolific Liverpool forward’s cartilage surgery went smoothly last month, but he remains short of match fitness and missed Uruguay’s surprise opening 3-1 defeat by Costa Rica.
Coach Oscar Tabarez is staying tight-lipped on whether Suarez might start or come on for the crunch clash against England, who also lost their first match 2-1 against Italy.
“I’m 100 per cent, otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” Suarez told Uruguayan reporters at the team’s training camp in Sete Lagoas.
“I knew it would be difficult (to be ready for) the first game, but if the proper time was left then I was going to be 100 per cent afterwards. I’ve done everything I had to do.
“I’m training today with the team and I feel in good condition. I never lost the joy and the desire. I never thought I would miss the World Cup.”
Given the importance of Thursday’s game, with a loss for either side probably ending their hopes of progressing beyond the group stage, Tabarez may well gamble on playing Suarez.
Having terrorised Premier League defences all season, Suarez will have relished seeing a few frailties exposed at the back in England’s narrow defeat by Italy.
“We hope Luis is fine and plays but if not, then it’s up to the rest of us,” Uruguay captain Diego Lugano said.
Still smarting from their shock opening defeat, Uruguay’s coach and captain both said last night they were working on how to annul England’s speedy strikers in the “life or death” Group D clash.
Although 2010 World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay ended surprisingly well beaten by Costa Rica, many considered England hard done by against Italy.
“England deserved better luck,” said Tabarez . “The English attackers showed their great technical potential. They’re fast in decision-making and running. We have to limit them, because they are going to repeat that offensive style against us,” he added.
Uruguay captain and defender Lugano, familiar with the English style from the Premier League where he plays for West Brom, said the team was doubly motivated after their disappointing debut.
“It’s life or death on Thursday. We’re up against two of the best in the world now (England and Italy). It’s an enormous challenge,” said Lugano, a veteran of the 2010 finals in South Africa where Uruguay finished in fourth place.