Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has talked up club teammates Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson ahead of the World Cup, after their contributions to the team’s impressive 2013-14 season.
With Uruguay taking on England in their second Group D game, Suarez has insisted La Celeste must respect the youngsters in Roy Hodgson’s side or face being upset in Sao Paulo on June 19.
‘I was particularly pleased when I heard that Raheem [Sterling] and Jordan [Henderson] were in the squad,’ he told the Guardian. ‘A year ago there were some people who didn't rate them and now, because they played so well this season, they've been called up.
‘For Raheem, who’s so young, it will be a wonderful experience. England have a nice mix of experience and youth this time: in previous years there were players who were maybe a bit past their best. Now there are ones coming through with hunger to succeed. We have to be very careful.’
Suarez also took the opportunity to single out Wayne Rooney and Leighton Baines for praise, but claims that their rivals do have weaknesses at the back which can be exploited.
Coming off a fantastic season with Liverpool, Suarez scored 31 Premier League goals in 33 games as the club narrowly missed out on the title to Manchester City, winning both the PFA and FWA Player of the Year awards in the process.
After picking up an injury at the tail-end of the season, there were initial fears the South American star could miss the World Cup, but Suarez has put any of those worried to bed, insisting that he never thought he would miss the tournament.
‘The thought never went through my mind,’ he maintained. ‘I could have really cried because of this injury but I didn’t because I knew. I knew. When the doctors told me three little tears fell but no more. My wife said: “I can’t believe how strong you’re being” but I knew I’d make it.’
With Sterling and Henderson enjoying their own breakout seasons with Liverpool, there is an outside chance the two could be starting when England face off against Suarez and Uruguay in 10 days’ time.
As captain Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Daniel Sturridge also look set to start in Brazil, there will certainly be a strong Anfield presence on the pitch in Sao Paulo, with Roy Hodgson hoping that his Liverpool contingent can stifle Suarez’s impact on the day and take all three points.