Nicolas Lodeiro conceded Uruguay will “lose a lot” through Luis Suarez’s suspension at the 2015 Copa America.
Uruguay will head to Chile in June as reigning Copa champions but will have to defend their title without talismanic striker Suarez, who remains unavailable for competitive international fixtures, following his bite on Giorgio Chiellini at last year’s World Cup.
Suarez is banned from Uruguay’s next nine competitive matches, he can serve a maximum of six at the tournament in Chile.
The Barcelona forward has scored 21 goals in all competitions for the Catalan club this season and was Uruguay’s top-scorer with four in their 2011 Copa triumph.
He will leave a massive hole in Oscar Tabarez’s squad, although Lodeiro has urged Uruguay to get over Suarez’s absence, while backing the likes of Edinson Cavani, Diego Rolan and Christian Stuani to cover up front.
“The truth is we lose a lot without Luis. He is very important both on and off the pitch; he is a leader, he is loved by everyone,” Lodeiro told the Copa America’s website on Thursday.
“On the pitch everyone can see what does but when we are not playing he brings a lot to the group. He is super-important but we have players who can come in and do a good job.
“We just have to think that he isn’t going to be there and try to find a way of doing things well without him.”
Suarez is Uruguay’s all-time leading scorer with 44 goals in 82 caps.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Cavani sits seventh on that list with 25 in 71 and, having scored 24 goals in all competitions this season, appears the obvious choice to lead Uruguay’s attack.
But Rolan, who has also been in fine form in Ligue 1, helping Bordeaux to sixth with 11 league goals this term, plus Espanyol’s Stuani, who has nine La Liga goals to his name in 2014-15, should also provide viable options for coach Tabarez.
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