Uruguay can cope without Luis Suarez, claims Oscar Tabarez

Oscar Tabarez (AFP)

FORTALEZA, June 14: Uruguay boss Oscar Tabarez says he won’t rush Luis Suarez back from a knee injury for his side’s World Cup opener against Costa Rica in Fortaleza on Saturday.

Suarez had an operation to repair damage to the meniscus in his left knee just three weeks ago and Tabarez is wary of throwing him straight back into the side with seemingly tougher tests against England and Italy to come in Group D.

“Yesterday afternoon Suarez did the most important thing in training, which is play football,” he said.

“We don’t want to pressure him in any way, though, we have prepared for this game without Luis. We are very happy with his recovery, but we need to be cautious.

“There is still a day to go until the game and that for me is a long time because many things can happen, but if nothing changes then I have decided on the team.”

Tabarez confirmed that in the absence of Suarez, Diego Forlan will partner Edison Cavani in attack, whilst Cristian Stuani will start ahead of Gaston Ramirez on the right.

Uruguay were the surprise package of the World Cup four years ago when they reached the semi-finals before narrowly losing out to the Netherlands and Tabarez believes that experience and winning the Copa America in 2011 should make them an even more formidable side this time round.

“In 2010 many of these players were 22 or 23, now they have matured.

“In the time since 2006 until now we have managed to amalgamate a group of players that doesn’t just end at the 23 that are here, there are plenty others too.

“Now everyone, both the players and myself, has more experience.”

On paper Costa Rica appear to be the potential whipping boys of the group up against three former World Cup winners.

And Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera admitted they need to get off to a good start to ease the pressure.

“We have the ability to go far, but we don’t want to assume the role of favourites because it has never suited us well.

“The first game is always difficult. A good result takes a weight off your shoulders and allows you to look forward.”

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