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Rodgers: We can cope without Suarez

ESPN staff
August 15, 2014 « Suarez 'very happy to feel like a footballer again' | Day 6: Maria Ho eliminated, 68 left »
Brendan Rodgers was also full of praise for Raheem Sterling © Getty Images
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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists his side have the goal threat to cope without Luis Suarez following his Anfield exit.

Suarez joined Barcelona for £75 million in July, but will not be able to make his competitive debut until late October.

The Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) upheld FIFA's decision to give the Uruguay international a four-month suspension for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match on June 24.

But he is now allowed to train with his team-mates and play in friendlies after CAS amended the terms of the ban.

Sterling a 'wonderful talent'

  • Raheem Sterling's "wonderful talent" can help inspire Liverpool's bid to re-establish themselves at the top of the English game, according to Brendan Rodgers.
  • Sterling scored 10 goals in all competitions for Liverpool as they finished second in the Premier League last season, before he went on to impress for England at the World Cup despite their group stage exit.
  • Rodgers has played down suggestions that the club are about to quadruple the 19-year-old's wages by offering him a new contract.
  • But he does believe that the winger, whose current deal runs until 2017, has a major role to play in bringing success back to Anfield as they prepare to kick off their Premier League season at home to Southampton on Sunday.
  • "He's a wonderful talent. I read somewhere that I said he was like Lionel Messi, which was a big shock, because I didn't say that," Rodgers said.
  • "He's got wonderful talent. He's very stable and secure outside of his football life and you see the joy with which he plays the game.
  • "He's still very young. And the great thing about Raheem is that he's got a mature head on his shoulders and he's looking to improve all the time.

Suarez spent three-and-a-half years with Liverpool, two of them playing for Rodgers, who took charge at Anfield in June 2012.

Suarez scored 31 goals last season as they finished second in the Premier League, and won all three major player of the year awards.

Rodgers, though, insists the goal threat remains even without the 27-year-old, pointing to the manner in which his side beat Borussia Dortmund 4-0 in a friendly last Sunday.

"Luis was a world-class talent, but we scored 101 goals last year, and 70 of those came from other parts of the team," Rodgers said.

"Of course, every big team will lose a top player at some point. But for us, there's nobody bigger than the club. If the fear factor is taken out of us, then that will be seen over the course of the season.

"For us, there's no change. We saw it against Dortmund that we've got goals in the team, and that the intensity is the same.

"And we had evidence of that last year as well. In the two years I've been here, when Luis hasn't played, we've won most of our games. We had nearly a 70% win rate in the Premier League last year, which is a fantastic achievement, and we aim to continue with that."

Rodgers believes Suarez has the professionalism to be at his best straight away when he returns from his four-month ban.

"Now the appeal process is complete, he knows where he's at. He can now train with the team, which is important for him," he said.

"I'm sure they'll put games aside for him to allow him to build up his fitness. He'll hope it comes around quickly. I saw the first competitive game he'll be available for is against Real Madrid. I'm sure he'll look forward to that.

"He'll just continue to work. He's a great professional. He'll have his focus on getting fit and back playing again."

Rodgers has brought in one striker this summer, with England international Rickie Lambert joining from Southampton in June for £4m.

And he is looking for another, with the club weighing up a move in recent days for Cameroon forward Samuel Eto'o, a free agent after being released by Chelsea at the end of last season.

"It was always the case that we needed to improve the squad. We haven't brought in another striker other than Rickie Lambert. We aim to do that, and the money's there. It's not as if there will be a panic buy," he said.

"We needed to improve the squad in various areas, and that's what we've done. That would have happened whether Luis was here or not.

"With Luis going, we wanted to improve that top end of the field. That's something we'll look to do right to the very end. If we don't, it means the right player hasn't become available for us.

"If that's the case, we'll continue on with the group that we have and I'll be happy to go into the season with what we have.

"I'm really pleased with the players we've brought in. That's going to allow us to cope with injuries and with competitions. If we can add maybe one or two more in the areas that we want to, then we'll have had a great window.

"And it will set us up, not only for this window. We didn't bring in anyone in January, so we needed to do that this summer. This summer will probably be our biggest window for the next couple of years. We hope to get one or two more in."

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