Belfast Telegraph

Suarez 'will come back to club'

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes wantaway striker Luis Suarez will "rejoin the group" and boost the club's cause in the Barclays Premier League.

The Uruguay international was not named in a 22-man squad to play Celtic in a pre-season friendly in Dublin on Saturday and he is training on his own after Rodgers took exception to his public pleas to leave Anfield in search of Champions League football.

On Friday morning Liverpool owner John W Henry insisted the 26-year-old would not be sold and said it would be "ludicrous" to let him join domestic rivals Arsenal, who have had an offer of £40million plus £1 rejected.

At a press conference in Dublin, Rodgers said: "Luis is training on his own and he understands totally where we're coming from.

"It's been a difficult period for him but it's my job to protect the group. Once he's back with the spirit he'll rejoin the group.

"We're quite calm. The club is in control of the situation. We've got no inclination to sell and we've been strong on that.

"Luis has fought for his life for Liverpool. There will come a point where he'll recognise the club is not going to sell and then he goes on to the pitch and he'll give 100 per cent.

"He's a world-class striker. I've got no question that when he's back he'll have a similar impact [to last season]."

Rodgers also confirmed the club was working on strengthening the squad further ahead of a season-opener against Stoke on August 17.

With Suarez absent from the travelling squad, striker Daniel Sturridge was a notable inclusion having recently returned to full training following an ankle injury.

Boston Red Sox and Liverpool owner Henry has stressed that Suarez will have to stay with Liverpool and join their push for a top-four finish next season.

According to the Liverpool Echo newspaper, he said: "We are not going to sell Luis.

"He is one of the best players in the world. I have no reason to believe that he won't continue to be.

"The club is headed in the right direction and this episode is not going to stop us. It is what we are all focused on right now."

Liverpool's target is the elite level of European football, and captain Steven Gerrard has said recently that Suarez holds the key to how the club will perform in the new campaign.

Henry knows the significance of Champions League football which, as well as offering the prospect of challenging for a trophy Liverpool have won five times, also offers huge financial benefits.

Henry said: "I think for all of the top clubs it's extremely important. Especially for Liverpool, since we have not been in Europe and are not in Europe this year - and we haven't been in the Champions League for a while - obviously to sell Luis to a rival for one of those positions would be ludicrous.

"I have told (Arsenal chief executive) Ivan Gazidis that Luis is not for sale. I am unequivocal on that."

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