MONTEVIDEO, May 31 — Barcelona star Luis Suarez was included in Uruguay’s Copa America squad yesterday despite undergoing knee surgery just three weeks ago.
The 32-year-old striker was a doubt for the continental showpiece due to begin in Brazil on June 14 after going under the knife on May 9 to repair an “internal meniscal injury.”
Barcelona had said he would be out for “between four and six weeks.”
That was just over five weeks before Uruguay’s first match, against Ecuador on June 16 in Belo Horizonte.
Coach Oscar Tabarez is confident Suarez will be firing on all cylinders when called upon, despite his lay-off.
“He’s very professional and has a good history in other types of recovery,” he said on Wednesday.
Suarez had missed Barca’s final two league matches and the Copa del Rey final on May 25, which the Catalan giants lost 2-1 to Valencia.
With Suarez included, there were no major surprises to Tabarez’s 23-man selection as fellow stars Edinson Cavani, the Paris Saint-Germain forward, and center-back Diego Godin, who is leaving Atletico Madrid after nine years, were also included.
Record Copa winners Uruguay are bidding for a 16th continental crown in Brazil, where they line up in a tough Group C alongside Ecuador, champions Chile and guests Japan.
Suarez’s presence is crucial to Uruguay’s chances of winning the Copa America for the first time since 2011.
The Barca forward is his country’s all-time record goalscorer, ahead of Cavani in second, and the pair are amongst the few survivors — Godin being another — from the last national team squad to lift the continental trophy.
Suarez scored 21 goals in La Liga this season, fewer only than his Barca team-mate and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi, who will also line up for his country in Brazil.
Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galastasaray/TUR), Martin Silva (Libertad/PAR), Martin Campana (Independiente/ARG)
Defenders: Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Sebastian Coates (Sporting Lisbon/POR), Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Giovanni Gonzalez (Penarol), Martin Caceres (Juventus/ITA)
Midfielders: Diego Laxalt (AC Milan/ITA), Nahitan Nandez (Boca Juniors/ARG), Lucas Torreira (Arsenal/ENG), Matias Vecino (Inter Milan/ITA), Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus/ITA), Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders/USA), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid/ESP), Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Flamengo/BRA), Marcelo Saracchi (RB Leipzig/GER)
Forwards: Cristhian Stuani (Girona/ESP), Gaston Pereiro (PSV Eindhoven/NED), Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Jonathan Rodriguez (Cruz Azul/MEX), Maximiliano Gomez (Celta Vigo/Espana), Luis Suarez (Barcelona/ESP) — AFP