International Friendly: Uruguay v N Ireland

All the talk in the Uruguay camp has been over Luis Suarez's fitness but they must now turn their attention to facing Northern Ireland.

Suarez was injured in training last week and underwent surgery after it was revealed he had suffered meniscus damage in his left knee.

The Liverpool striker's injury has raised questions over whether he will be fit for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Suarez is confident he will play his part on the biggest stage of all in football, but he will not feature in a friendly against Northern Ireland at Estadio Centenario in Montevideo on Saturday.

If the former Ajax man is ruled out of the tournament, then Edinson Cavani will be under more pressure to provide the goal threat.

The Paris Saint-Germain frontman is hopeful that his fellow striker Suarez, who scored 11 goals in qualification, will win his fitness battle, though.

He told El Pais: "We're all a bit discouraged by what happened. Injuries are always ugly and more so at this time.

"I think we have to leave him alone now so he can have a good recovery with no anxiety on him.

"We wish he can join us as soon as possible."

Record caps holder Diego Forlan could lead the line in the absence of Suarez this weekend.

Uruguay needed to come through an intercontinental play-off against Jordan to seal their place in the finals in Brazil.

They then drew 1-1 with Austria in March and coach Oscar Tabarez will see a home friendly against Northern Ireland as an opportunity to get into their stride ahead of their World Cup Group D opener against Costa Rica on June 14.

Michael O'Neill has named five uncapped players in his Northern Ireland squad in the form of Trevor Carson, Ryan McLaughlin, Luke McCullough, Paul Paton and Liam Donnelly.

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, West Brom duo Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt, Palermo forward Kyle Lafferty and Hull City's Alex Bruce are among the absentees along with Derby County's Jamie Ward.

Northern Ireland secured a shock win against Russia in their World Cup qualifying group, but that was their only victory in 10 attempts as they finished second-bottom.


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