Uruguay captain Diego Lugano will find out later today whether he will be fit to face the Netherlands in tomorrow's FIFA World Cup™ semi-final, although he has insisted he is ready to play through the pain.
The Fenerbahce defender limped out of his country's quarter-final with Ghana after just 38 minutes with a knee injury, and is now a major doubt for the South Americans. Oscar Tabarez's team are already without key striker Luis Suarez and fullback Jorge Fucile, who are suspended, while defender Diego Godin is a doubt with a thigh problem.
"I was lucky enough to train and run in a straight line without pain, which is good news because it's only 48 hours since I was injured," Lugano said. "Now we'll have to wait until the last minute.
"I don't mind playing through the pain, but the point is to be 100 per cent ready for a match of this level. We will evaluate if I'm okay or not today."
Lugano has been one of the star performers for La Celeste so far, helping them top a tough Group A, which also included hosts South Africa, 1998 winners France and Mexico. They have since beaten Korea Republic 2-1 and Ghana on penalties to seal a first semi-final appearance in 40 years. But the 29-year-old concedes the short turnaround between games is making his race to be fit for the last-four game in Cape Town increasingly difficult.
"With just four days between games that's not much time, it'll be very difficult (to be fit)," he said. "I have to be honest with the team and if I'm not able to play there are other players who can come in and do a good job. I'm doing everything I can to be fit and then the coaching staff and doctor will make a decision about whether I play."
With or without him, Lugano warned the 1930 and 1950 champions will be tough to beat. "Uruguay's history demands us to be world champions," he declared. "We are prepared for an almighty battle and, if God wants, another step towards our great dream."
Van Marwijk warning
His comments were echoed by Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk, who admitted his side were up against "fighters". The Dutch are the clear favourites to make it to Sunday's Final, especially with Robin van Persie declared fit and Arjen Robben back to his best after injury forced him to miss most of their group games.
"Uruguay are a team of fighters - they battle and survive," said Van Marwijk, "That is why they have reached the semi-finals. We must certainly not underestimate them, otherwise things will go wrong for us."