Luis Suarez injury: Liverpool's Uruguay striker faces battle to be fit for England World Cup clash after emergency knee surgery

England take on Suarez's Uruguay in Sao Paolo on 19 June

The Uruguay Football Association today 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 after 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 28 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 11 May.

Dummett, whose red card was later rescinded, tonight found himself the victim of death threats on social media from Uruguay fans after the AUF effectively blamed Newcastle for Suarez’s operation.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 today for a friendly against the Netherlands on  4 June, referred the threats to the football authorities

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 the Uruguayan capital Montevideo today, 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 morning. 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 today 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 while 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.

“Surgery only 20 days before the World Cup: that’s serious,” Spalding said. “I imagine the decision-making was quite hard. They will have wondered, ‘Could we get him back to 80 to 90 per cent, without risking surgery? Is that enough?’”

The indirect beneficiaries of Suarez lacking his full firepower in Brazil include Liverpool, who could find the Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, making a substantial play for him in July. Perez loves to buy the next big thing and a more subdued Suarez may be less appealing to him.

But Hodgson is the one who 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. Tabarez operates an obdurate 4-4-2 system, grinding through games with no sophistication and just waiting for the opportunity to get one of the pair free in space. “As a team we want to be as we were in South Africa [in the 2010 World Cup] – difficult to play against,” Tabarez said recently. ”I don’t aspire to anything else.”

Suarez's 31 goals saw him win the golden boot this season Suarez's 31 goals saw him win the golden boot this season The South American football specialist Tim Vickery observes in the latest edition of World Soccer that Tabarez’s squad are – strikers aside – arguably past their best. Semi-finalists last time and tipped to go far again, they need an early win against Costa Rica – the fixture Suarez really will struggle to play in – allowing them to approach England and Italy with a defensive outlook and using Suarez and Cavani on the counter-attack.

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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor