Sport Soccer

Thursday 14 December 2017

Suarez itching to finally get back in action – Rodgers

Luis Suarez can't wait to get back in action
Luis Suarez can't wait to get back in action

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Luis Suarez is ready to "hit the ground running" on his return to English football next week.

Suarez has just one game left of his 10-game suspension for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, with Rodgers saying the prolonged absence from the game has been "killing him".

The Uruguayan's imminent return is well timed, with Liverpool suffering the grim news that Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho will be absent for six to eight weeks because of a shoulder operation.

Suarez's comeback will be at Old Trafford in the Capital One Cup, but Rodgers says there are no fears he will be short of fitness.

Liverpool have been putting the striker through a personal training programme to ensure his reintegration into the line-up is smooth. He featured in specially arranged training games and behind-closed-door friendlies – including another against Burnley yesterday.

Rodgers will, therefore, have no qualms about sending Suarez (below) into the incendiary atmosphere of a Liverpool versus Manchester United fixture.

"The idea is that hopefully when he steps back in, it will be seamless," said Rodgers. "Of course there will be a transitional period for him but I am really looking forward to having him back. He is working his socks off."

Suarez has been at Liverpool's home games to ensure he has felt part of the squad during the club's good start to the season, but Rodgers opted not to take the South American to away fixtures.

"I think you have to look at the individual. I think defenders sometimes enjoy that, they enjoy being in and around the team. Strikers? They are different," said Rodgers. "They don't miss playing more, but just in a different way so if you have them in and around, it can work the other way and be counter-productive.

"Suarez loves the game. If he doesn't play the game, it kills him. Any kid when they start to play, the integral part of it all is the game and that is what he is. So if you put him in an environment where he is smelling the smelling salts in the changing-room, it can be counter-productive. We have to keep him out of the way."

In Suarez's absence Liverpool are unbeaten over the nine games of his ban and top the Premier League. Injuries to key personnel highlighted certain vulnerabilities during Monday's 2-2 draw with Swansea, however.

Coutinho will not be available until November at the earliest as he undergoes "surgical stabilisation" of a shoulder injury suffered in a challenge by Ashley Williams. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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