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Luis Suarez fit to play and expected to start against England

Jun 18, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT

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Uruguay ace Luis Suarez has been declared fit to play and is likely to start against England in tomorrow’s Group D showdown.

The striker, who had knee surgery on May 21st, has “recovered well” says coach Oscar Tabarez. The 27-year-old did not play during his country’s opening match last Saturday, a 3-1 loss to minnows Costa Rica.

Tabarez’ refusal to call on Suarez raised concerns of his fitness, which the coach promptly denied. Yet, despite warming Suarez up as his side were tied 1-1, losing 1-2 and losing 1-3, he refused to introduce him into the match.

On Thursday, however, that won’t be the case although Tabarez notes that this is not the same Suarez who racked up 34 goals last season for Liverpool.

From the BBC:

If he plays, we must consider the possibility that he’s not as well as he was during the Premier League season. Even when he’s not 100% he’s someone who can give a lot to this team. That’s what we’re considering now….”

He’s been training and playing with his team-mates during this last week. He’s been able to train, but a training session is not the same as a match.

If Tabarez is to start he’ll likely displace Diego Forlan, who looked out-of-sorts on Saturday and so hesitant, in fact, that he was withdrawn in the 60th minute for Nicolas Lodeiro. The presence of Suarez alone would be a game-changer for Uruguay, who lacked an inspirational and incisive presence against Los Ticos.

Alongside the equally-pacy Edinson Cavani the England defense will need to be sharp, especially full-backs Glen Johnson and Leighton Baines who struggled against Italy. With Cavani and Suarez both preferring to start wide and carry diagonal runs and dribbles inside, communication will be key between the full-backs and Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka.

In addition to Suarez’ injury, Uruguay enter the match a depleted side with Maxi Pereira out due to suspension and captain Diego Lugano declared unfit to play.

Thursday’s match kicks-off at 3:00pm ET from the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paolo.

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