Of all the players who may have found themselves in danger of missing the World Cup due to injury, Luis Suarez would have been the last one many people would have expected. The Uruguayan has never missed a game for Liverpool due to injury -- it's incredibly rare for him to even miss a training session -- and his only absences have been due to other, shall we say "indiscretions."
So the news that he'd undergone knee surgery after suffering damage when Newcastle's Paul Dummett clattered into him with four minutes remaining of Liverpool's final game of the season was somewhat surprising. It turns out he is human after all.
It seems like there's always an injury drama surrounding a big star in the build up to these major international tournaments. The only surprise this time is that it's not an England player at the centre of it -- although interest in England will still be huge as Suarez is the Premier League's newly crowned Footballer of the Year and, more significantly, his Uruguay side are due to face Roy Hodgson's men in Sao Paolo on June 19.
Over the next few weeks, the Uruguayan public will no doubt be subjected to daily fitness updates on their national hero and by the time the World Cup eventually starts they'll be experts on the inner and outer workings of a meniscus. [Just as the English are with the other dreaded 'M' word -- metatarsal -- following the sagas involving David Beckham and Wayne Rooney ahead of recent major international tournaments.]
Suarez says there's nothing for the people of Uruguay to worry about and that he will make it to Brazil. You certainly wouldn't bet against him; the man is a warrior and he's been playing through pain his whole career. It takes a lot for Suarez to miss a game, he gets kicked more than anybody in the Premier League but he just grits his teeth and gets on with it. In his autobiography, Goodfella, Craig Bellamy wrote of his former Anfield teammate: "He took a hell of a lot of punishment, too. He would take his socks off after a game and his calves and his ankles would be black and blue from where he had been kicked."
So England fans would be wise to not get their hopes up too much as it will be more surprising if Liverpool's No. 7 isn't leading the line when Uruguay's World Cup campaign starts against Costa Rica in a few weeks.
Liverpool fans may have mixed feelings. They will want Suarez to play in the World Cup as he deserves to be a part of football's biggest showpiece event and everyone knows just how much representing his country means to him. Suarez gave everything he had for Liverpool last season and you certainly wouldn't begrudge him the opportunity to shine on the biggest stage of all, but of course it might not necessarily be in Liverpool's best interests.
Suarez would be absolutely devastated if he had to miss such a massive tournament when he's in the form of his life. This is his time to shine, he's 27 and in his prime. At the last World Cup he performed very well, but he was 23 and not the player he is today. At the next World Cup he'll be 31, not over the hill by any means but he may not be at the peak of his powers as he is currently.
If he were to miss out, however, it wouldn't be the end of the world for Liverpool Football Club. Far from it. Although he still made a big contribution, Suarez looked very jaded in the closing weeks of the season and having a summer of rest could only be of benefit to him in terms of next season. The fact he has also had to undergo surgery on an injured knee muddies the waters even further. What state will he be in when he returns from the World Cup and what will be the knock-on effect for Liverpool next season?
And if Suarez tears it up at the World Cup, will that prompt Real Madrid to stop fluttering their eyelashes at him every summer and actually make an offer? If that were to happen, what would Suarez do?
Pragmatically speaking, it would certainly be better for Liverpool if Suarez was ruled out, and yet I expect the majority of Kopites would be hugely disappointed for him personally if he didn't make it. It would be good to know what Brendan Rodgers truly feels about it all. With Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling also on World Cup duty he surely has to be a little concerned as to what impact that will have on the freshness of his attack ahead of a huge season for Liverpool in 2014-15.
I personally hope Suarez does make it to the World Cup as the tournament will be better for his presence, but if he is ruled out then I won't lose too much sleep over it either. He'd certainly be motivated to show the world what they missed as he lights up the Champions League next season. With Liverpool.