No Suarez threat for O'Neill's men
Michael O'Neill's depleted Northern Ireland squad were given some positive news yesterday when it emerged they would not have to face the world class finishing power of Luis Suarez.
Northern Ireland face Uruguay on Friday, May 30 but O'Neill's preparations have been badly disrupted by a succession of pull-outs.
However, there was an uplifting development when it was confirmed that the Liverpool striker will not be weaving his magic in Montevideo.
Suarez has undergone minor knee surgery and with Uruguay finalising preparations for the World Cup, their star man will not be risked in a friendly against O'Neill's side.
The arthroscopic surgery has been a success and Suarez should be ready for action again in two weeks.
The 27-year-old injured the meniscus in his left knee while training with the national side and after an MRI scan it was decided to send the player for a minor operation.
The South American's first match is against Costa Rica on June 15 before they face England in Sao Paolo on June 19.
"Yesterday, Wednesday 21st of May, Luis Suarez suffered an intense pain in his left knee after an undergoing a normal warm up," said a statement from the Uruguay Football Association (AUF).
"He had an MRI scan which confirmed a partial lesion of the external meniscus of his left knee.
"On Thursday morning, he underwent an arthroscopic partial resection of his meniscus in the Medica Uruguaya hospital (Montevideo). There was no evidence of any further damage to the knee.
"His participation in the World Cup in Brazil has not been ruled out." Uruguay FA president Wilmar Valdez suggested if Suarez's recovery went to plan he could return to training in just over a fortnight.
"We know the surgery was a success and that the injury is not serious. We have to wait and see how he recovers," he said.
"We had very little time to react and without knowing the extent of the injury, we didn't want to raise the alarm to the public."
Suarez, who was named the Professional Footballers' Association and Football Writers' Association player of the year after scoring 31 league goals, is his country's all-time leading scorer with 38 in 77 appearances.