Rodgers shifts focus from Suarez

“Being at this club is a huge privilege and whatever comes with that – pressure or the challenges – I will accept.” 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 £12million January signing and despite questions being asked about his ability to cope at the highest level, having not really succeeded at either Chelsea nor Manchester City before that, he scored 12 goals in 15 appearances. 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.” The summer has been dominated by the Uruguay international’s repeated utterances about wanting to leave but after two failed bids by Arsenal, the second a controversial £40,000,001, and a dip in performance the the 26-year-old has been made to train on his own. Rodgers will undoubtedly have to have private conversations with Suarez after he returns from international duty in Japan but he is determined not to add any more to what has been a highly-public affair. Press Association And with the striker suspended for the first six matches of the campaign as his 10-game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic is carried over the manager intends to keep the focus on football. “My only concentration is the players who are available. Purely out of respect to them and the work which has been going on I only want to talk about them,” said the Reds boss. “So much has been written and said about Luis over the last few months the standpoint from the club and myself has not changed. “I won’t be speaking any more about Luis Suarez until he is available. “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.” Rodgers’ stance – along with that of the club after principal owner John Henry vowed not to sell Suarez to a rival – has been praised during such a testing period but he insists dealing with such issues comes with the territory. “You meet many different challenges as manager and when you are at one of the biggest club sin the world there is a lot more profile involved,” he said. “For me it is always about dealing with people and I have always tried to do that in an open and honest way. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is determined to draw a line under the Luis Suarez saga and insists until the banned striker is available for selection again he will not talk about him.

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