Steven Gerrard Refuses to Speak to Luis Suarez Ahead of Uruguay vs. England Game

Stuart NewmanFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2014

MANAUS, BRAZIL - JUNE 13:  Steven Gerrard of England looks on during the England press conference ahead of their first match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil against Italy at Arena Amazonia on June 13, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

England captain Steven Gerrard has admitted he will shun his domestic colleague Luis Suarez in the build-up to Thursday’s vital Group D clash with Uruguay in Sao Paulo.

With potential World Cup 2014 elimination just 90 minutes away, Gerrard says keeping the PFA Player of the Year sweet is the least of his priorities, as Jeremy Armstrong and Andy Lines of the Mirror revealed:

I am not going to speak to [Suarez] in the hours before the game. It is disrespectful to my teammates, I have had some banter with him in run up but there will be no communication between us tomorrow.

I have said before and I will say it again—Luis is a genius, a wonderful player, and it is a boost for the team and their supporters to have him back. [I] have huge respect for them as a team and him as an individual but we have a plan in place to stop them.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: Steven Gerrard (L) of Liverpool and team mate Luis Suarez look dejected after the opening goal by Oscar of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on April 21, 2013 in Liverp
Michael Regan/Getty Images

To “stop them,” England will undoubtedly need to tame the threat posed by Suarez, who demonstrated during last year’s Premier League that he has the ability to torment any defence in world football.

Together with England star Daniel Sturridge, the Uruguayan was part of the most lethal partnership in the division, as Opta Joe revealed:

Even without Sturridge in the picture, Suarez remains in one of the fiercest striking lines at the World Cup, with Edinson Cavani set to partner the Liverpool man up front against England.

However, Gerrard and Co. will take endless positives from the South Americans’ opening 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica on Saturday, when Oscar Tabarez’s side looked worthy of an early flight home in Fortaleza.

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 14:  A dejected Luis Suarez of Uruguay (R) looks on late in the match during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at Castelao on June 14, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Robert Cianflon
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Suarez will, of course, be back in action for the Uruguayans on Thursday, having missed the Costa Rica clash, but former Manchester United star Paul Scholes said in his blog for Paddy Power that England have nothing to fear and just need to hope that luck isn't on the Liverpool striker's side:

Thinking of my time at Man United we didn’t worry about Suarez much. He’d barely get a kick at Old Trafford and I don’t remember any specific strategy to try to stop him playing, like we did with Park Ji-Sung on Andrea Pirlo in the Champions League, for example. Suarez is a lucky player. The ball seems to bounce off him into the right place. ... Luck or skill—he gets breaks other forwards don’t.

Despite Scholes' views, Suarez’s return to the fold will undoubtedly give the Uruguayans a lift, though the way England conducted themselves during their 2-1 defeat to Italy showed they can dominate even against the best sides in the tournament.

The stakes couldn’t possibly be higher, and while England fans don’t want to see the 27-year-old rediscover his Premier League form, there’s a certain Suarez moment during the domestic campaign they wouldn’t mind seeing again.

After Liverpool’s 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace, which lessened their chances of winning the title, Suarez appeared crestfallen as tears rolled down his cheeks at Selhurst Park.

Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Not that Gerrard would ever wish misery upon a teammate, but a few Suarez tears at full time on Thursday night means England will be in the driving seat for knockout-stage progression.

Costa Rica await England following Thursday’s clash. If they find a way to keep Suarez quiet and once again produce a performance worthy of an England team, then a place in the last 16 is a near certainty.