• Premier League

Rodgers: I wouldn't swap Suarez for RvP

ESPN staff
January 11, 2013 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said he would not swap Luis Suarez for Robin van Persie.

Suarez and Van Persie, the Premier League's top two scorers, go head to head when Liverpool visit Manchester United on Sunday.

United star Van Persie has 16 league goals this season - one more than Suarez - and both strikers have been invaluable to their teams.

Asked what he would do if United manager Sir Alex Ferguson rang up to offer him a swap deal, Rodgers said: "I've already got Luis Suarez - so I wouldn't want to swap, that's for sure."

His comments came after former Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli warned that Suarez was being "victimised" and could be driven out of the English game.

Suarez is set for a hostile reception at Old Trafford on Sunday after he was banned for eight games when the FA found him guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra during the clubs' league meeting at Anfield last season.

The striker then avoided shaking the United full-back's hand ahead of the return fixture at Old Trafford last February. Suarez later apologised for not shaking hands with Evra and did so before this season's league fixture at Anfield in September.

Rodgers said he was confident that the Uruguay international would handle the barracking from United fans on Sunday.

"His mental fitness is very strong," he said: "He's a player who, like most top players, can cope mentally. If anything, he thrives on it. It gives him a greater motivation, and I think everyone has seen that over the course of the time he's been here.

"But thankfully people are looking more now at his good side. He's a guy who just gets on with it. He's in great form, and we hope that continues."

Suarez has been the focus of attention this week following his controversial handball goal in the 2-1 FA Cup win at Mansfield.

Mansfield chairman John Radford accused Suarez of cheating and then gloating afterwards, but Rodgers laughed off that criticism, saying: "I spoke with their chairman and the manager afterwards. He [the chairman] had obviously had a few drinks by that stage.

"I thought the criticism of Luis Suarez was ludicrous, considering that the ball hit his hand and it's not down to him to say it's handball. But we've sent a message to Mansfield wishing them luck for the rest of the season."

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