Uruguay don't depend on any one player - Luis Suarez

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez said that Uruguay are strong headed to World Cup qualifying this week and added that the team do not depend on any one player.

The striker is eligible to return from his international playing ban when Uruguay face Brazil on March 25 in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. He missed a total of 16 national team games.

He hasn't played for his country in an official match since he bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a group match on June 24, 2014 at the World Cup in Brazil and was subsequently banned from all football activity -- although he did play in three friendlies in 2014. He missed the first four months of the 2014-15 La Liga season as well.

Now, after being benched for nine international games, including the 2015 Copa America, the former Liverpool forward has returned to the squad for their upcoming qualifiers against Brazil (March 25) and Peru (March 29).

"Now the national team depends more upon the group rather than the individual and that gives me a sense of calm so I don't feel any pressure," he told El Pais. "Uruguay were very proud at Copa America the team showed that they bonded together. When people say that Uruguay are nothing without Suarez, well that hurt the team's pride and made them eager to win even more. I think the team showed that with the way they came together [at Copa America] from Diego [Godin] who was our captain, to Edinson [Cavani], who was the last one to be added.

"They pulled it together at the moment. They showed that they were united and that the team do not depend upon one player. I will only be putting in my little grain of sand."

Chile eliminated nine-man Uruguay in the Copa America quarterfinals last summer. La Celeste currently have nine points in CONMEBOL qualifying, three behind leaders Ecuador. Suarez is Uruguay's all-time leading scorer with 43 goals and has won 82 caps since making his senior debut with the team in February 2007.

"Football is like a wheel, things go around and come back around again and now I have a chance to play again in Brazil which was where I played the last time with the national team," he said. "It generates a lot of expectations but now the national team depend more on the group so I don't feel pressure."

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez and teammate Diego Forlan, however, said they still can't understand the Suarez ban.

"The way it was given and all that it stood for, it was excessive," Forlan told Uruguay newspaper Ovacion. "I don't understand why he couldn't train with his teammates or go to the stadium."

Tabarez blamed the English-speaking media.

"The severity was excessive, directed more to please the artillery of media that exploded right after that match. There were journalists who became fixated on that subject only," Tabarez told Ovacion. "I don't know what nationality they were, but they all spoke English."

Asked whether he sees himself in 2030 alongside Messi watching a World Cup in Argentina or Uruguay, Suarez said: "It would be nice that the two countries could unite and plan one because Uruguay is not in a position to host a World Cup alone."

The 30-year-old won the Treble in his first season with the Blaugrana club, and is leading their charge to repeat that feat with 46 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions so far this term. He said that having a great relationship with his fellow South American front line of Lionel Messi and Neymar was a boost for the team.

"There is always something to talk and laugh about not just on the field but also in the dressing room, we are always joking and laughing a lot about something," he said. "Ney is a happy guy, he enjoys life, Leo does too, people don't know that side of him, but he is spectacular. We enjoy the football we play each day and now the results are on our side.

"To establish a relationship you have to learn about a person on the field and off. We get along well in that sense. Our kids play, along with Masche [Javier Mascherano] and his family, but we all get along together, Argentines and Uruguayans. But not just because it is Messi and Masche. The same thing happened to me when I was at Liverpool with Maxi Rodriguez and at Ajax with [Dario] Cvitanich. It is the culture that we have and the way that we are. With Messi we talk about how things were when we were kids."

Asked whether he sees himself in 2030 alongside Messi watching a World Cup in Argentina or Uruguay, Suarez said: "It would be nice that the two countries could unite and plan one because Uruguay is not in a position to host a World Cup alone."

He said maturity and desire to play the game set players apart and criticised agents for giving young players too much too soon.

"If you are given everything when you are young, then you don't learn ambition," he said. "My first car I bought in 2009, four years after turning pro. These days, many young players are buying cars before houses without knowing what can happen to them in the future."