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Suarez targets England clash

URUGUAY striker Luis Suarez has told his Liverpool team-mates in the England camp that he will be fit for next month’s clash between the two nations in Brazil.

Suarez had to undergo keyhole surgery last Thursday to repair damage to the meniscus in his left knee, putting his World Cup participation in doubt.

Uruguay’s team doctor remains cautiously optimistic about the striker making it and it emerged yesterday that the frontman has texted his Liverpool colleagues in the England World Cup party, telling them that he will be fit for their Group D match on June 19 in Sao Paulo.

Suarez has been pictured in a wheelchair, but Reds team-mate Jordan Henderson fully expects his team-mate to make a sufficiently speedy recovery.

“Everybody is obviously disappointed for Luis, the people that know him - maybe not us because he is a big player for Uruguay,” the midfielder said.

“I gave him a text to see if he is doing all right and wished him good luck with whatever he has got to have done.

“But, knowing the type of person he is, he is a fighter and I am sure come maybe the first game or the second game in the World Cup he will be ready and raring to go.”

Uruguay take on Costa Rica in their Group D opener on June 15, before facing England in Sao Paulo four days later.

Suarez’s absence would clearly be a boost to Roy Hodgson’s men, although there is no way that would lull Henderson into a false sense of security. “It is not just Luis,” the midfielder said. “Obviously he is outstanding but they’ve got other good players, they’re a very good team so we’ll look at different ways and options of how to deal with that and counteract that.

“We’ll just focus on what we’ve got to do but first and foremost is the game against Italy. That’s all we’ve got to focus on.”

Henderson is being tipped by many to start England’s opening match in Manaus, playing in central midfield alongside Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard. The pair have built up an impressive relationship this season and hope to extend that to the national team in the upcoming pre-tournament friendlies against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras.

“Obviously me and Stevie have played together throughout the season and it has worked really well at times,” Henderson said.

“But when you come with England it is different, we play tactics, different formations so it is a little bit different, but it is up to the manager to decide whatever side he wants to put out and hopefully I will be part of it.”

Henderson and Gerrard were on the pitch in the Three Lions’ last match at a major tournament, which as fate would have it was also against Italy. That game, the Euro 2012 quarter-final in Kiev, saw England exit on penalties after the encounter finished goalless and Henderson knows they need to show more of a cutting edge.

“Obviously it is not a nice way to go out of a competition, on penalties,” he added.

“It was a very hard to take after the game but at the same time I felt as though we played well in the game, defended really well as a team.”