'Luis Suarez champing at bit to return'
Brendan Rodgers: Suarez is champing at the bit
Brendan Rodgers says that Luis Suarez is "champing at the bit" to help Liverpool after completing a 10-match suspension for biting.
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Suarez was banned in April after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a 2-2 Premier League draw at Anfield.
The striker completed that suspension on Saturday, and is ready to return when Liverpool travel to Manchester United in the Capital One Cup third round on Wednesday night.
Rodgers said: "He certainly comes back into the squad and we’re delighted to have him. It’s been a really difficult time for him in terms of not playing games.
"But I’ve got to say he’s been fantastic in the way he’s prepared himself over the last few weeks.
"He’s really champing at the bit now to come back and help the team.
"So he’ll travel with us and we’ll reflect over the next 24 hours whether he starts or not."
During his ban -- which only applied to competitive domestic games in England -- Suarez made headlines by stating that he wanted to leave Liverpool.
But the club refused to sell, rejecting two bids from Arsenal, and the Uruguay international has accepted that he is staying put.
Rodgers said that Suarez was hurt by his ban, and believes that the striker will be hungrier to succeed on his return.
The manager said: "I think it was a real, real difficult time for him.
"He plays football. He loves the game. He loves his training. He trains every day. But he plays for the game, and as a striker, he wants to get goals.
"So it really hurt him, the period he was out. But everyone supported him -- the club, the players, the staff. Everyone was right behind him to help his rehabilitation and get his football fitness up, and support him in every way we possibly could, knowing that when he returns, we’ll get the same player back.
"And I’ve got no doubt that, having been out, he’ll be even hungrier. But his commitment and fight for the cause will still be the same."
Suarez was, for a while during pre-season, forced to train on his own after Rodgers expressed concerns about his attitude.
But those issues were soon resolved, and the manager believes that the 26-year-old is ready to show full commitment for the first team.
He said: "In the time I’ve been here, this club has given every single player everything, and none more so than Luis.
"But he will show that in his performances. And that’s what people want to see. They want to see him with the red shirt on, fighting for the club."
Asked if he felt Suarez had learned his lessons from the Ivanovic controversy, Rodgers smiled: "We will see."
Rodgers is facing another defensive reshuffle at Old Trafford on Wednesday, as centre-back Daniel Agger is still struggling with a rib injury.
The Denmark international missed the 2-2 draw at Swansea last Monday after suffering the injury on a gymnasium accident.
And although he was able to start Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Southampton, he had to come off after 57 minutes.
With right-back Glen Johnson out for around another month because of an ankle sprain, Jose Enrique trying to manage a knee problem and fellow left-back Aly Cissokho not yet recovered from an ankle injury of his own, Rodgers started against Southampton with a defence made up of four centre-backs.
Kolo Toure played at right-back, while Mamadou Sakho began on the left before moving inside when Enrique came on for Agger.
Rodgers said: “Daniel could be a doubt because he’s not quite recovered fully.
“He wanted to give it a go at the weekend. But he was struggling with his breathing, because he’s had the knock in around his ribs.
“But he’s a player who makes good recovery and we’ll see in the next 24 hours how he gets on for the game on Wednesday.
“Jose’s had this niggle with his knee now for a few weeks.
“And we’re in this period now where we’ve got three games this week. So we decided to miss him out at the weekend, so it would allow him to be involved over these next couple of games.
“It’s just unfortunate that Aly Cissokho was out, because he would have been able to step in and Jose might have been able to rest it that wee bit more.
“But Jose’s training and he’s fine. We just need to protect his load. The last thing we wanted to do was lose him. But he’ll be available for Wednesday.”