Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez expects no repeat of the biting incident that led to Luis Suarez’s international ban as the forward nears a return.
Suarez was suspended for nine internationals after biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup, as well as being fined and banned from taking part in football-related activities for four months.
The Barcelona star is set for a return when his nation face Brazil on Friday and Peru four days later in World Cup qualifiers.
Speaking at a news conference, Tabarez said the least he expected was that Suarez would avoid another biting incident.
“He must have feelings and one of the targets we have is to try to get him to only think about football. Nothing else, nothing that may bother him,” he said.
“We will get rid of anything that may disturb a sense of calm. Of course, that would be always speaking with him. That’s the idea we have.
“This is not the right moment, but some serious things have happened, the least we can expect is that they won’t happen again. Just that.
“I recognise how important he is as a player, the symbol he represents for this country, but he arrives to join a team.
“He’ll face teams that know how valuable he is and they’ll do everything they can to limit him, and he has to be fresh, beyond what’s mature and everything else, he needs help and I know that for sure.”
Even without Suarez, Uruguay have started qualifying well – winning three of their four games to sit second in the table.
But the return of a player who has scored 43 goals for his club this season is sure to come as a boost.
“Luis arrives having conquered many things,” Tabarez said.
“And being in a club like Barcelona, a club that has made something of an institution out of a way of playing football, he has become a part of things.
“I know that a lot of people said, ‘How can he go to Barcelona? He’s a Real Madrid kind of player. He can’t play that way.’
“Perhaps they were right about their comments, but Luis showed once again that he overcomes challenges.
“Obviously I think that the numbers show what he’s done. He’s conquered challenges.”