- Premier League
Suarez poised for 'seamless' Liverpool return
Suspended Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is in perfect condition to return for his side's Capital One Cup clash with Manchester United next week, according to manager Brendan Rodgers.
Suarez has one match remaining on his ten-game ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic last season, and it appears Rodgers will have no reservations in throwing the Uruguayan straight into action against United.
The Reds boss is confident the strict regime Suarez has undergone since being sidelined has him as match fit as possible to make a "seamless" return to competitive football.
"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.
"We are trying to map out over the period he has been out. We have been organising some games behind closed doors, both in terms of in-house 11-a-side matches and bringing teams in.
"In between that he has had international games as well to keep him ticking. He has been doing a lot of individual work, specific to him on top of all that and replicating his high intensity speed runs that he would do in a game.
"It is not the same as playing in a match but say he did 1,000 high-intensity runs in a game, he has been replicating that in training so that he is at a level where we hope he will hit the ground running.
"At the end of sessions, he is having extra work tagged on relative to him and his position. He is flushing himself out to the maximum to be as fit as he possibly can.
"There are always other things in a game - the crowd and the anxiety you cannot replicate in training - but what you can at least do is get him to a level of fitness so that his numbers are replicated and that keeps him at a high level."
While Suarez has been spotted at Liverpool's home games this season, he has not travelled to away games with the side and Rodgers explained the 26-year-old's decision to keep some distance on match days.
"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," Rodgers added. "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 counterproductive.
"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 counterproductive. We have to keep him out of the way."
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