Brendan Rodgers bans talk of Luis Suarez
Liverpool manager says Daniel Sturridge can become ‘one of the top strikers’
Liverpool’s manager Brendan Rodgers is tired of talking about Luis Suarez. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The summer has been dominated by speculation about the Uruguay international’s future, with Arsenal having two bids rejected and comments from the player about wanting to leave resulting in him being told to train alone.
Suarez is suspended for the first six matches of the new season as his 10-game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April is carried over.
Liverpool’s principal owner John Henry is adamant he will not sell the striker so, even if he remains at Anfield beyond the end of the current transfer window, the 26-year-old cannot be picked until the end of September.
“For me Luis Suarez is very simple,” said Rodgers. “I will start off by saying there has been so much written and said about Luis over the last few months. From our perspective there is a standpoint from the club and myself that has not changed.
“What I want to concentrate on is the players that are available for this weekend so I won’t be speaking any more about Luis Suarez until he is available. I don’t really want to answer any more questions on Luis Suarez. There is nothing to be said that hasn’t already been said. I am sure people are fed up of listening about it and reading about it.
“My only concentration is the players who are available and, from the first day they came back, they’ve had a real hard pre-season. Purely out of respect to them and the work which has been going on, I only want to talk about them.”
With Suarez suspended fellow striker Daniel Sturridge’s recovery from an ankle injury is more than timely. When the ban kicked in towards the end of last season Sturridge showed he could fill the void left by a striker who contributed 30 goals last term by scoring six in his last four appearances.
An ankle injury on England duty restricted his pre-season work and while he may only currently be around 80 per cent fit Rodgers is convinced a fully-firing Sturridge can be one of the Premier League’s top performers.
“He has worked tirelessly with the medical crew and while he’s not 100 per cent fit yet I think Daniel is a player who at 70-80 per cent he will be right up there as one of the top strikers,” he said. “If he remains fit and churns out the games and scores and creates goals while working hard I think England will have one of the top strikers for sure.”
Sturridge arrived at Anfield as a €15 million January signing and despite questions being asked about his ability to cope at the highest level, having not really blossomed at either Chelsea nor Manchester City before that. He scored 12 goals in 15 appearances and Rodgers believes those few months will have done wonders for the striker.
“Every player, and in particular strikers, feed on confidence and it is a huge part of the game and he is a player who feels really settled now,” he added. “That January to the end of the season was an adaptation to this club and the expectations that surround it and he is fully up to speed with that now.
“It is now about fine-tuning his fitness but even at this stage he looks very strong. But there is not just pressure on Daniel to score goals, it is throughout the team. You can’t just have the focus on one man — although of course that is the job when you are paid to score and create goals — but for me he is a real outstanding talent. He has all the tools to be a leading marksman at this level and we are hoping with a full season here with us he can go and showcase the qualities he has.”