MONTEVIDEO — Uruguayan star Luis Suarez is remaining upbeat after the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) said that his participation at the World Cup “is not ruled out” following knee surgery on Thursday.
Suarez underwent the operation after he “suffered an intense pain in his left knee” in training Wednesday morning, according to the AUF. The operation required “arthroscopic surgery to repair meniscus damage.” It’s a relatively minor procedure, but with the surgery so close to the start of the tournament Suarez might not be ready for the team’s opener — which is against Costa Rica on June 14.
The 27-year-old insisted he’ll make it. Wearing jeans and a sports jacket, Suarez appeared in good humor as he left the hospital Thursday afternoon in a wheelchair. The player raised his hand to acknowledge the dozens of well-wishers who shouted encouragement as he was driven away in an ambulance.
Uruguayan media stated the operation was a success, but recovery time for arthroscopic surgery can vary. Experts say patients can recover in full in as little as 15 days, but the knee could take a month or longer to mend. Suarez will need to be a fast healer to make the match against The Ticos.
Costa Rica goalie Keylor Navas said Thursday afternoon it won’t make much of a different to him whether Suarez is out or not. Uruguay — ranked 6th in the world by FIFA — always has one talented player ready to replace another, Navas said.
“It would be a significant drop for Uruguay, but everyone knows from where they select their forwards,” said La Sele’s star goalkeeper. “They have forwards of high-level playing in major leagues, so they have options to replace him.”
Uruguay can be one of the World Cup’s top contenders with Suarez on the field. Suarez was the top scorer in the Premier League this season. He finished with 31 goals and won multiple player of the year prizes. He was the top scorer in the South American World Cup qualifying group with 11 goals, although Uruguay only placed fifth and needed a play-off against Jordan to reach the finals.
In the 2010 World Cup, Suarez scored three goals while helping the Uruguayans to a fourth place finish.
The star striker now faces a race against time to be ready for Uruguay’s 2014 campaign, which begins in a little over three weeks against Costa Rica in the northern Brazilian city of Fortaleza.
A Redemption Tour
He enjoyed a stunning comeback in the 2013/14 Premier League campaign after his reputation plummeted for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and then biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in the previous season.
Suarez’s goals helped Liverpool finish second in the Premier League behind eventual champions Manchester City.
After playing Costa Rica on June 14, the two-time world champions face England in Sao Paulo on June 19 and then Italy in Natal five days later.
Before the finals get underway, Uruguay have two World Cup warm-up matches scheduled, against Northern Ireland on May 30 and Slovenia on June 4, with both games to be held in Montevideo.
All 32 teams have to announce their final 23-man squads by June 2.