Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez has moved to allay fears that Luis Suarez will soon require surgery, insisting that the Barcelona striker is currently fit and available to play.
Reports from Spain last week suggested that former Liverpool talisman Suarez requires an operation to remove a meniscal cyst on his right knee, with Barcelona apparently hoping to arrange the procedure for the November international break in order to minimise the amount of matches he will miss during an estimated lay-off of between two to three weeks.
The 30-year-old originally suffered a knee injury during the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup defeat to arch-rivals Real Madrid back in August and missed subsequent La Liga clashes against Real Betis and Alaves.
Although he has been included by Ernesto Valverde in every matchday squad since and was surprisingly called up by Uruguay in early September for meetings with Argentina and Paraguay, the issue clearly continues to linger.
Uruguay team doctor Alberto Pan recently told Montevideo station Radio 1010 AM that Suarez did not need surgery "for now" and that such a common injury usually does not necessitate going under the knife.
"It's a controlled situation and it will come down to his tolerance of what happens in the next few games," he said. "If he feels discomfort, then a decision will be taken."
Tabarez appeared to support that opinion during a press conference held before Uruguay's final 2018 World Cup qualifier against Bolivia on Tuesday night (10 October), telling reporters: "If it [the injury] was big enough as to be making sacrifices, they would have put him through surgery already.
"He's in a period where he made an amazing recovery but beyond that he didn't play. And a player who comes here to face Argentina and hasn't played in three or four weeks, he has to make a sacrifice to make up for that lack of physical preparation.
"From that point of view, Luis already passed a lot of tests and that's why we never discard him. He's the first one not giving up on himself, he's stubborn in a very positive way."
Suarez has netted just twice for Barcelona so far this term and is without an international goal since a 2-2 draw with Colombia in October 2016, although Tabarez has evidently not lost any confidence in Conmebol qualifying's all-time leading scorer as two-time winners Uruguay look to rubber-stamp their 2018 World Cup berth by claiming at least a point against lowly Bolivia at Estadio Centenario.
After being held to a goalless draw by rock-bottom Venezuela in San Cristobal on Thursday, La Celeste currently occupy second place behind Brazil in the South American standings and have already guaranteed a play-off spot at the very least.
A massively superior goal difference in comparison to the likes of Peru and Argentina means they will very likely qualify automatically even if they lose, barring a hugely unlikely nine-goal swing.