Luis Suarez worry led to a morale dip: Uruguay star Edinson Cavani
Uruguay star Edinson Cavani has admitted that doubts surrounding the fitness of his strike partner Luis Suarez have hit morale in the squad, with less than two weeks to go before the start of the World Cup.
And that could be good news for Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.
He will lead an understrength and inexperienced team into a friendly against the South Americans in Montevideo tomorrow morning (12.30am kick-off) and with a number of regulars missing from the squad, there are fears that the Brazil-bound Uruguayans, who will have former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan alongside Paris St-German's £52m-man Cavani in attack, could go goal crazy in the Estadio Centenario.
The absence of Suarez – who had keyhole surgery on the meniscus in his left knee last week, but expectations are that he will be fit for at least their second match of the World Cup, against England on Thursday June 19 – does take away some of the goal threat from Oscar Taberez's team and if the mood is low then O'Neill's men will hope to take advantage and make it even worse.
"We're all a bit discouraged by what happened (with Suarez)," said Cavani.
"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."
Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin, who scored the Atletico Madrid goal in their Champions League final defeat to Real, admitted that he felt sick after finding out about Suarez's surgery.
Now, after joining up with his international team-mates in preparation for the World Cup, he is expecting to line up alongside the Liverpool striker when they get to Brazil.
"When I heard (about Suarez) I said 'no, not now, please'," said Godin.
"The truth is that I felt ill, it is something that nobody expected. He is our figurehead, our star.
"Now what remains is for us to support him. I've talked to him and he is very optimistic."