Football: Suarez "champing at the bit" for Reds return
LONDON (AFP) - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on Monday said controversial striker Luis Suarez is "champing at the bit" as he prepares to make his return from suspension after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.
Suarez is finally eligible to play again after serving a 10-match ban following his shocking clash with Ivanovic last season, and the Uruguayan is set to feature in Wednesday's League Cup tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
A meeting against Liverpool's arch rivals is always a combustible occasion, especially given Suarez's previous ban for racially abusing United defender Patrice Evra.
While Suarez has played a handful of internationals and some behind-closed-doors friendlies at the club's Melwood training ground, his last regular competitive football came to an end on April 21.
But Rodgers claims the forward, who was also banned for sinking his teeth into PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax in November 2010, can't wait to throw himself into the scrap against United.
"How he has prepared himself over the last number of weeks has been fantastic," said Rodgers, who will decide in the next 24 hours whether Suarez starts at Old Trafford.
"He's really champing at the bit to help the team. Everyone knows the depth of his quality and his attitude.
"He is non-stop and he has commitment and I am sure once he gets back on the field again he will show what he has shown since he's been here, which is top quality.
"He played a behind-closed-doors game against Burnley and we had a lot of our younger players in that because some of the older ones had played a reserve game the night before.
"I know a lot of players who would've decided to come and train that morning but he loves the game and he lives for the game and he put everything into that.
"It is what we expect because that is the type of character he is." Rodgers would not confirm whether the Uruguay international had been helped by the club's in-house psychologist Dr Steve Peters in the wake of his misdemeanour but hinted it had been part of a wide-ranging rehabilitation programme.
"I am not going into too much detail on him but he has had support in every way," Rodgers said.
"It is not just technical and tactical development here, we look at physical elements and how we can improve psychological state. He has worked tirelessly on every aspect.
"He's had a long time to reflect on what has happened but now all that is in the past, the ban is finished and he has suffered because he hasn't been playing.
"Now he is available and we are all delighted he is ready to go again." And asked whether Suarez had learned his lesson after a second lengthy ban for biting, Rodgers could only say: "We will see, we will see."