Sport

Saturday 12 July 2014

Rodgers plays peacemaker ahead of return

Published 23/11/2012|16:39

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Ashley Williams, right, criticised Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, left

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is confident there will be no animosity between striker Luis Suarez and Swansea defender Ashley Williams this weekend after acting as mediator to diffuse any potential difficulties.

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The Swans defender was heavily critical of Suarez in an extract from his Premier League diary recounting last season, their first in the Barclays Premier League, published this week. Williams was quoted as saying the Uruguay international was "streets ahead of any player I've truly disliked" and he wanted to "knock him out" for the player's diving antics.

Rodgers was taken aback when he read those comments and has spoken to Williams, who in turn has talked to Suarez, in an attempt to prevent the situation escalating ahead of Sunday's match at the Liberty Stadium. And Rodgers said: "I have spoken to Ash and Ash has spoken with Luis so there is no issue there."

Rodgers, who along with Joe Allen returns to the club they left in June, added: "When I saw it I was surprised because in my time there because Ash, knowing his character, is a real good man with good intelligence and maturity and a good footballer player.

"When I saw those comments I spoke to him and got the full explanation of how it has seemingly got out there and he was very quick to want to apologise for that. That is done. There is no problem there and I am sure they will shake hands on Sunday and get on with it."

The fact Rodgers was able to use his good relationship with his former club to intervene in the matter has no doubt helped avoid any lingering ill-feeling.

Last season Suarez's obvious disdain for Patrice Evra, whom he was found guilty of racially abusing and banned for eight matches, manifested itself in the refusal of a handshake with the Frenchman at Old Trafford in February.

It was one of a number of high-profile public relations disasters by the club in respect to the affair and Rodgers was keen to avoid any chance of things getting out of hand at the Liberty Stadium.

Rodgers has already lost to his former club, at Anfield a month ago, when they ended Liverpool's defence of the Capital One Cup.

Visiting fans cheered former midfielder Allen but chanted "We don't need you any more" at Rodgers. The Liverpool boss does not expect to encounter much hostility but accepts, with points at stake, there may not be a warm welcome.

Press Association

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