Rodgers: Suarez can help Sturridge
Published 27/09/2013 | 16:46
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is confident striker Daniel Sturridge's recent good form will not be impacted by the return of Luis Suarez.
During Suarez's 10-match ban, which came to an end last weekend, the England international scored 11 times as he assumed the responsibility of being the main focal point up front.
In the Capital One Cup defeat at Manchester United in midweek, which marked the long-awaited comeback of Suarez, Sturridge did not look his sharpest as the Uruguayan took centre-stage.
But Rodgers insists both can play alongside each other - despite starting only eight times together since Sturridge's arrival from Chelsea last January - and the Englishman will not be intimidated by the return of arguably Liverpool's star man who scored 30 times last season.
"I think it will only improve him (Sturridge) and make him a better player. Good players want to play with other good players," said Rodgers.
"I think you will see with how they will perform together that they can be a real threat.
"It is not something that Daniel or anyone else will be worried about, their focus is on the team.
"It is my job to manage the dynamics and the structure of the team.
"We looked at a different system (3-5-2) the other night which would suit the players who were available and after a few days' preparation and then a performance like that at Old Trafford it clearly showed we can work in that way if we want to.
"For Daniel and Luis it worked really well. I have no worries about that.
"We have been able to work on real-game situations in training (during Suarez's suspension).
"There has been a lot of relationships which have been formed in training and the fluency of the team the other night was excellent.
"That will get better over time and of course once they play in the games."
Sturridge is still not working at full capacity after an ankle injury at the end of last season but Rodgers said Suarez's return did not mean a rest for the England forward.
"There is no taking (him) out. Even when he is not 100% fit he is still an amazing player, a player who will put defenders on the back foot.
"He is a player who is very important for our team, he is a real catalyst at that top end."
While Suarez understandably lacked some sharpness in midweek Rodgers expects the 26-year-old to be fully up to speed very quickly, buoyed by the birth of a son on Thursday.
"Luis became a father for the second time yesterday so he is on top of the world," added the Reds boss.
"He is only going to get better with his football fitness.
"It is a great credit to himself that he continued to devote, once he got his mind set, time working hard on his fitness.
"To go into a game of that level (against United), knowing the magnitude of that game, was exceptional really."
On Thursday, managing director Ian Ayre spoke about the damage done to Liverpool's brand by the fall-out from the ban given to Suarez for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.
Rodgers said he now hoped everyone could move on.
"I saw it and it was very unfair on Ian because he wasn't talking about Luis Suarez but was talking very much about the coverage as a whole," he said.
"It is all behind us. We really need to focus on the now and the future and the most important thing is he is available.
"I don't think anyone wants to keep regurgitating that stuff all the time, it is something which is very much in the past.
"We are looking forward and that is my only interest as a manager."
Ayre also suggested contract discussions would start with Suarez in the summer but Rodgers said that was not a priority.
"He still has a few years to go yet so that is something the club will take up at the right time," he added.
"His (Suarez's) only concentration now is as a player.
"I thought he was terrific the other night considering he had been out for a long time and you could see the threat he posed."