Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates has targeted a comeback before the end of the season in order to win a place in Uruguay’s World Cup squad.
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Coates, 23, suffered anterior cruciate knee ligament damage during his country’s 4-2 friendly win over Japan in August.
Without him, Uruguay have secured a place at next year’s World Cup finals, having beaten Jordan 5-0 on aggregate in a two-legged playoff earlier this month.
The centre-back has struggled to establish himself at Anfield since arriving from Uruguayan club Nacional in 2011, making just six Premier League starts in two seasons.
He had been linked with a move to Italy before his injury, and his long-term Liverpool future is uncertain given that manager Brendan Rodgers signed three central defenders during the summer -- Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori.
But Coates is aiming to regain a place in Liverpool’s side when he is fit again so that he can join teammate Luis Suarez as part of Uruguay’s squad in Brazil next year.
He told the club’s official website: “I’m making progress slowly but surely. It’s an injury that takes a long time this one, and you have to work hard on a day-to-day basis to recover, but fortunately that’s what I’m doing and so I hope to come back fit and well just as soon as I can.
“It’s been going very well. As I said, it’s a long recovery process for this injury and I think it’s more about how you are psychologically in your head and trying to keep positive in order to be able to get back to full fitness as quickly as possible.
“You always think positively, I think that’s the most important thing. In my case, I keep myself going by focusing on getting back as quickly as I can, and with the national team, the World Cup is another goal to help me with my recovery.”
Coates’ compatriot Suarez has been in inspired form this season, scoring nine times for a Liverpool side who sit second in the Premier League table ahead of Sunday’s trip to Hull.
“In my opinion he’s in the world’s top three players. Certainly when it comes to attacking players, he’s up there with the best,” Coates said of Suarez.
“He’s in some great form at the moment and let’s hope it continues as he’s very important, not just for his goalscoring but also for his overall contribution to the team.”