Rodgers: Suarez revels in limelight
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Luis Suarez is relishing the responsibility of leading the line – and the striker has committed himself to a long-term stay at Anfield.
While not an out-and-out centre-forward, the Uruguay international has played in the centre of a front three all season.
He has delivered eight goals in 11 Barclays Premier League matches – scoring 11 overall – making him joint top scorer with Manchester United’s Robin van Persie.
Rodgers considers the 25-year-old, his only fit senior striker, to be thriving in the system he has installed since taking over in the summer.
“I’ve seen some elements and one to talk about is maybe the system change,” he said.
“Some players prefer to play in that central role on their own. I worked with Didier Drogba at Chelsea and if he was playing alongside someone it would get in his way.
“He needed to have freedom to work both sides and I think you find with Luis, in this way, he moves freely in that false nine role.”
Suarez last night insisted he would be staying at Anfield for years to come.
Speculation this week circulated linking the striker with a big-money move to Manchester City, who have distanced themselves from the rumours.
And Suarez, who had four years remaining on his deal when he signed up to improved terms in the summer, told Liverpoolfc.com: “I have a very long contract here and it’s a dream come true to be playing at a club like Liverpool because, as I’ve said, as a boy I dreamt of playing for a team like this.
“Now I’m here it’s all about enjoying myself and trying to be here for as many years as I can, because I’m at a club where I’m very happy, my family is happy, I’ve got fantastic team-mates and a manager from whom I’m learning so much.
“As a player, it’s vital to have the backing of your manager and so I think that the confidence Brendan is showing in myself and the team as a whole is very important and it’s down to us to repay that trust out there on the pitch.
“Let’s hope we can keep improving. I’m working well and I’m very happy at a club where I’ve always wanted to be.”
Ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Wigan, Rodgers is seeing the strength in his squad return.
Goalkeeper Jose Reina is fit after a hamstring injury while midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has recovered from the thigh problem which forced him to withdraw from the England squad.
Even more positively, fellow midfielder Lucas Leiva is edging closer to a first-team return from a thigh injury which has kept him out since the end of August.
“Lucas will come back into training, which is great news,” said Rodgers.
“He has worked tirelessly in his rehabilitation. He won’t be ready to play for the weekend but certainly over the next couple of weeks he’ll be very close.
“Jonjo will be fine while Pepe (Reina) has been back in training. He was very close to last weekend (at Chelsea).
“He made a great commitment to show he’s fighting for his place here in the group.
“He was called into the Spanish squad but stayed here to ensure he was fit and strong and he’ll be available for the weekend.”