English Premiership

Strike duo excite Rodgers

2013-09-28 10:30
Brendan Rodgers (AFP)
London - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is expecting Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez to form a thrilling forward partnership.

Suarez, 26, ended his 10-game suspension by returning in midweek as Liverpool were knocked out of the League Cup by bitter rivals Manchester United with neither the Uruguayan nor the 24-year-old Sturridge on the scoresheet in a 1-0 defeat.

Rodgers is ready to pair them up again for the Premier League visit to bottom-of-the-table Sunderland on Sunday.

And the Reds boss has no concerns that, despite Sturridge failing to add to his six goals this season at Old Trafford, the former Chelsea and Manchester City forward will be stifled by the return of Liverpool talisman Suarez.

"I think Luis's return will only improve Daniel," Rodgers said. "Good players want to play with other good players. They can be a real threat.

"It's not something that Daniel will be worried about. Their focus is on the team doing well and it's my job to manage the dynamics of the team. I've got no worries about it."

Rodgers insisted he would not be using Suarez's return as a chance to rest Sturridge, with Liverpool one of a clutch of clubs who headed into the weekend on 10 points, two behind leaders Arsenal.

"There is no taking Daniel out," Rodgers added. "Even when he's not 100 percent fit he's still an amazing player. His pace and power is getting up to speed. He is a very important player."

Rodgers confirmed Daniel Agger was back in contention having missed the defeat by United with a rib injury.

However, Reds midfielder Joe Allen is still out with a hamstring problem for the visit to Sunderland, who will face their first Premier League game since the north-east club sacked Paolo di Canio as their manager.

Rodgers had some sympathy for the dismissed Italian but is expecting to face an upbeat Black Cats side after their win over Peterborough in the League Cup on Tuesday.

"There is always an upturn when a manager comes in," said Rodgers. "It is unfortunate that Paolo lost his job but they did get a good win in midweek."

Meanwhile Sunderland's Ondrej Celustka has accused the north-east club of acting too hastily in their decision to sack di Canio, only in charge at the Stadium of Light for some six months.

The Czech defender, one of 14 pre-season signings made by di Canio, was the first member of the squad to speak in public about a decision to sack di Canio reported to have been sparked by a dressing-room revolt.

"In my opinion the decision was a little bit hasty. He was building the team and in the summer 14 new players, including me, arrived. It needs time to settle down," Celustka said.

Di Canio paid the price for poor results - Sunderland are bottom with just one point from their opening five games - and a dictatorial management style that saw him come out second best in a power struggle with the club's senior professionals in a turbulent few days on Wearside.

Gus Poyet, the former Brighton manger, remains the favourite to succeed the former West Ham midfielder, although Kevin Ball again takes temporary charge as the Black Cats go in search of their first home league win for more than five months.

Lee Cattermole, the midfielder stripped of the Sunderland captaincy under the previous regime, is set for only a second Premier League start in 10 months after being brought back into the fold by Ball, who is also likely to restore Celustka to the starting line-up after the full-back was rested for the midweek League Cup win over Peterborough.

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