Luis Suarez of Uruguay strikes the ball during a pre-Copa America friendly soccer match against Panama, in Montevideo, Uruguay, June 7, 2019. (MATILDE CAMPODONICO / AP)
BELO HORIZONTE — Luis Suarez is again racing against time to be fit for a tournament with Uruguay.
Five years ago, it was meniscus surgery to his left knee that jeopardized Suarez's participation at the World Cup in Brazil. Now it is an arthroscopy procedure on his right knee that has affected his preparations for the Copa America in the same country.
Suarez had the operation about a month ago and it remains unclear if the Barcelona striker will start for Uruguay in its opener against Ecuador on Sunday in Belo Horizonte.
I'm always motivated and positive that if you do things the right way you can arrive in good condition
Luis Suarez, Uruguayan footballer
He played for about 30 minutes in the 3-0 win over Panama in a friendly last week, scoring a goal shortly after going on in Montevideo.
"I'm always motivated and positive that if you do things the right way you can arrive in good condition," the 32-year-old Suarez said.
Before the World Cup in Brazil, he made his debut in the team's second match. Uruguay had opened with a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, then Suarez helped the side recover by scoring twice in a 2-1 win over England.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has yet to announce his team for Sunday's match at the Mineirao Stadium, and Suarez could start on the bench.
"Your fitness depends on how the game progresses," said the country's all-time top scorer. "I want to play the whole game, but we'll see.
"At the 2014 World Cup I thought I had arrived well, but after 60 minutes I was already feeling cramps."
Uruguay is the Copa America's most successful nation with 15 titles, one more than Argentina.
After facing Ecuador in its Group C opener, Uruguay will play against Japan and then two-time defending champion Chile.
Uruguay's last Copa America title was in 2011, when Suarez scored in a 3-0 win over Paraguay in the final.
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