Glen Johnson backs Luis Suarez ahead of Old Trafford trip

 

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson believes Luis Suarez's strength of character will get him through the trial which awaits him at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The Uruguay international returned from his eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra as a substitute in last night's goalless draw at home to Tottenham.

He certainly made his presence felt in a 24-minute cameo, getting booked for kicking Scott Parker in the stomach and missing a late headed chance to win the game.

However, the appreciative response from the Anfield crowd on his first appearance since Boxing Day will be replaced by a hostile atmosphere at the home of their arch rivals at the weekend.

The traditionally fiery encounter between England's two most successful clubs will come under even more scrutiny as Suarez comes face to face with Evra on the pitch for the first time since their clash in October.

But Johnson is confident that after being sidelined for six weeks the 25-year-old striker will be keen to focus on playing football again.

"It is a tough place to go Old Trafford. Luis is a strong character and he will try to let his football do the talking," said the England international.

"He is a fantastic player, he has had a long break now and hopefully he will be fresh and ready to put in a performance at the weekend.

"He is the sort of player we need in the team."

Team-mate Martin Kelly, who against Spurs made his first Barclays Premier League start since the now-infamous United game at Anfield on October 15, sees Suarez having a key part to play in the remainder of the season.

"The crowd gave us a lift when they saw Luis coming on and it's fantastic to have him back," said the 21-year-old.

"He'll be a big help for us over the next few weeks when we've got big games coming up and he'll be there ready for the (Carling Cup) final."

Manager Kenny Dalglish, Suarez's staunchest defender, risked re-opening the row over his lengthy suspension when he stated after the match he did not think the striker should have been banned at all.

But he, more than anyone, was delighted to have the player available for selection again.

"We are pleased and encouraged he is back," said the Scot.

"Every time he gets the ball in and around the box expectation levels rise and it is just unfortunate we couldn't get anything from it."

Liverpool are in need of the livewire South American's energy and trickery after yet another frustrating draw at Anfield.

Having failed to break down a steely Spurs side they became the first top flight side to draw at least eight of their first 12 home matches since Manchester United in the 1980/1981 season - when the Red Devils finished eighth.

Liverpool have picked up 20 points at Anfield and 19 away, compared to the end of last season when it was a 40:18 split, and having the Premier League's lowest chance-to-goal conversion rate (around 9%) is damaging their hopes of a top-four finish.

The Reds are still only four points off Chelsea, who currently occupy the final Champions League qualification spot, but that only highlights how costly 16 dropped points at home have been.

"When you hear stats like that it doesn't sound good at all but I don't think performances have reflected that," added Johnson.

"We have been playing better than the eight draws out of 12 shows but that is football.

"It is always frustrating when you don't win and you play as well as that (against Spurs).

"They are a fantastic team and we did enough to win the game but it was one of those days.

"They had pace on the break and so they set up deep and tried to catch us on the counter and that is difficult to break down at times.

"We had a couple of decent chances and sometimes in games like that you only get one and you take it and win it 1-0."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn