Despite assurances from Liverpool star, Luis Suarez, that he will be ready to play for the World Cup in Brazil, representatives of the national team from Uruguay have admitted that the timetable makes it a possibility that he will not be fit for the opening matches in the tournament. Suarez underwent surgery to repair meniscus damage after injuring the knee in training on Wednesday. While all parties are expressing optimism over the prospects of the Liverpool striker making it back to top form in time for Brazil, speculation is abounding.
Aggravating the situation is the reports out of the Asociación Uruguaya de Fútbol (AUF) that the injury occurred in the Liverpool match against Newcastle United when Suarez was challenged by the Paul Dummett on the Newcastle defense. It is deemed unlikely that the surgery would have been delayed this long had the injury actually been sustained that long ago. The initial statements about the injury indicated that Suarez suffered an intense pain during training on Wednesday, and most agree that it was almost certainly then that the injury occurred.
That has not stopped Dummett from receiving negative reaction on social media, including death threats from passionate Uruguay supporters. The AUF has not backed away from the statement, however, leaving some to question whether it was a move to deliberately generate patriotic ire in advance of the World Cup matches. Suggestions made by media outlets in Uruguay have taken the incident to new levels, postulating a conspiracy undertaken by England to prevent Suarez from participating in the World Cup. A far-fetched claim given that Dummett is an Under-21 national from Wales. Regardless of how realistic, the pot has been stirred in Uruguay.
Injuries to the meniscus vary depending on the severity and location of the injury, but many of the experts who have lined up to comment on the injury to Suarez indicate that him playing in the opening match is a long shot. Even allowing for his being in top physical condition before the injury, the timetable anticipating his return to fitness before the first match is suspect at best. The risk of re-injuring the knee from pushing to play too soon is real, and though the temptation to do so in order to play on the world’s largest stage for the sport is strong, the decision affects his entire career. It may be that for all of the positive tweets and optimism, the benefits will not outpace the potential pitfalls to attempting such a rapid return.
The AUF have downplayed the injury, saying that it was not serious and that the surgery to repair it was a success. With this injury squarely in the spotlight so close to the World Cup, officials have their hands full answering questions from the media. Their statements alternately express concern and encourage optimism. Suarez himself in media addresses has called for calm, and assuring fans that he would “get there.” While Luis Suarez will almost certainly get to Brazil for the tournament, whether or not the Liverpool star will be on the pitch for the opening matches for Uruguay is still very much in question.
Commentary By Jim Malone