Luis Suarez deserves a rest says Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool striker likely to be rested for FA Cup tie against Mansfield
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits top scorer Luis Suarez deserves a rest ahead of this weekend's FA Cup tie at Mansfield.
However, that does not necessarily open the door for new signing Daniel Sturridge to walk straight into the side as his replacement.
Suarez has scored four goals in his last two matches to take his tally to 18 for the season, which includes 15 in 20 Barclays Premier League matches.
The Uruguay international is pivotal to his side's chances of making a bid for the top four and a trip to a non-league club on a less-than-perfect pitch may be too much of a gamble.
Rodgers is keen to protect Suarez where possible - even though he knows the 25-year-old will want to play this weekend.
"The players are paid here to play wherever the club ask them," said the Reds boss.
"Every game is a massive game, whether it is Mansfield away or Manchester United away.
"Luis is a player who loves playing, that is why he is here: to play games and score goals.
"I speak a lot with him and I know from working with him he wants to play.
"He is an ultimate professional. There are no worries with him.
"But he's coming off the back of a real busy period where he's given everything in the games and scored goals.
"We have players coming back now, which is great, and having Daniel come through the door and Fabio Borini returning from injury (soon) will be great for us.
"We will pick a team which will hopefully win the game."
It remains to be seen when Sturridge will be given his bow after moving to Anfield this week on a long-term deal, with Rodgers saying: "Daniel is still catching up a bit on his fitness because he has been out for a period of time.
"He's looked good in the couple of sessions we've had but I'm not looking to rush Daniel into anything.
"He is not under big pressure to come in and perform straightaway, in particular because of the form of the team at the moment."
Sturridge's arrival from Chelsea is likely to see the 23-year-old given a chance to play the central striker role he craves.
That has been occupied brilliantly by Suarez so far but Rodgers does not see there being a conflict of interests or an impact on the Uruguayan's blistering form in front of goal.
"I certainly didn't bring in Daniel to affect anyone, it was to come in and make us better," he added.
"The types of players we are trying to bring in are those who are tactically flexible.
"Daniel can play off the right, left or central and that is exactly the same for Luis Suarez - and wherever he plays he gets goals.
"They are the types of players we want, players who are fluent in positions.
"We understand every player will have his best position but I didn't bring in any players to hinder us and Daniel will be a great addition to the squad and I am sure he will prove that.
"There is a difference between Luis and Daniel. Luis has scored goals but he is a different type of player and we have missed a presence always in the box.
"Luis has proven he is a world-class operator but for us it is about the team.
"When he didn't play against West Ham (because of suspension) others stepped up to the plate and we scored three that day.
"It is about building a group which is competitive in training and hopefully that will spill onto the field."
Liverpool finally got Joe Cole's reported £100,000-a-week salary off the wage bill when the midfielder completed his move to former club West Ham.
However, it came at a price as the club had to negotiate a settlement to cover the remainder of his contract and even with the wage bill a little lighter Rodgers does not yet know whether that will allow him more flexibility in the current transfer window.
"I think for both parties it was the best solution. It hasn't quite worked out for Joe here," said the Reds boss.
"He is 31, has had the career he's had so he doesn't want to be sitting on the bench at Liverpool.
"He hasn't been an ounce of a problem for me at all and I wish him well because it's been a difficult period for him professionally and personally.
"I am sure he will go there and do very well."
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