England captain Stephen Gerrard has warned his team-mates of the dangers of losing out of the World Cup to Uruguay this evening at Arena de Sao Paulo.
The ‘Three Lions’ lost their opening Group D game to Italy and face a “terrible long summer” should Oscar Tabarez’s men halt their progress to the knock-out stage in Sao Paulo on Thursday, according to Gerrard.
“It wasn’t to scare any of the lads but a wake-up call to everyone – staff and players,” captain Gerrard, who is participating in his third World Cup in Brazil, said.
“That is the reality of where we are. We need everyone focused and right on it to perform individually and collectively on Thursday otherwise it will be a terrible, long summer.”
Gerarrd was in the England side that lost on penalties to Portugal in quarter-final of Germany 2006 and captained Fabio Capello’s side which lost 4-1 to Germany in the second round of South Africa 2010.
The 34-year-old, who addressed coach Roy Hodgson’s squad alongside Franck Lampard, adds: “A lot of people in the dressing room already know that,” said Gerrard. “But we have a few young lads and it was important for them to realise what is at stake and how important this game is.
“We all need to leave everything on that pitch. If a defeat was to happen it is probably the most difficult place to be as a footballer.
“There is no hiding place for a player when you go out of a tournament. You go home earlier than you expect. It can be tough as a player and it can take an awful long time to get over it.”
Gerrad’s team-mate at Premier League club Luis Suarez is expected to lead Uruguay’s attack, despite his coach Tabarez admitting he was not fully fit on Wednesday.
“If he plays, we must consider the possibility that he’s not as well as he was during the Premier League season,” Tabarez said.
“Even when he’s not 100% he’s someone who can give a lot to this team. That’s what we’re considering now.
“He’s been training and playing with his team-mates during this last week. he’s been able to train, but a training session is not the same as a match.”
Gerrard, speaking in Wednesday’s pre-match press briefing, admitted the 27-year-old striker was “a genius”, but also said he is not nursing the intention of having any contact with the striker before the game out of respect for his England team-mates.
Suarez claimed the PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year prizes for the 2013/14 season, after scoring 31 goals for the Anfield club last season.
Uruguay captain Diego Lugano is out with a knee injury, while Jorge Fucile is expected to replace suspended right-back Maxi Pereira.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, though back in England training following a knee ligament injury, remains a doubt.
Kick-off time is 8:00pm (Nigerian time).