Liverpool defender Glen Johnson reignites Suarez row

 

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson has accused Manchester United defender Patrice Evra of manufacturing the handshake incident with Luis Suarez at Old Trafford which further inflamed the race row between the two players.

Johnson also accused former Manchester United defender Paul McGrath of racism after he criticised Johnson for wearing a T-shirt in support of Suarez.

Johnson has also claimed that the Liverpool players wearing the T-shirt supporting Suarez before a game at Wigan was the idea of the Anfield club.

Suarez was given an eight-match ban by the Football Association for racially abusing Evra during an earlier match and the row was reignited when Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand when the sides met again at Old Trafford.

Suarez and the club have since apologised for his actions at Old Trafford.

But Johnson believes Evra "stayed up all night" coming up with a plan to make sure Suarez did not greet his opponent in the expected manner by holding his hand by his side.

Johnson said: "Evra was clever at Old Trafford.

"Luis didn't shake his hand because Evra's hand was down there. What else is Luis supposed to do? Would you go to shake someone's hand if their hand is way down there by their side? Course not.

"But then, because Luis didn't do it, Evra has pulled him back by his arm as he walked on, as if to say to everybody: 'Look, I wanted to shake his hand and he didn't..."'

Johnson added in an interview in the Daily Mail: "Evra probably stayed up all night thinking about how to do that. The whole thing was ridiculous."

McGrath used social networking site Twitter to criticise Johnson for wearing the T-shirt in support of Suarez but the Liverpool defender has accused the former United defender of racism for singling him out.

Johnson claimed: "The McGrath thing ... that's actually racist. Saying what he said is racist. He is only saying that to me because I was the only black lad wearing the T-shirt.

"He's targeting me because of my colour."

Johnson also claimed that the club had driven the support of Suarez rather than the players.

"It seemed to come across that we were making a point. We weren't. It was the club's idea. But obviously we all agreed. We didn't really think about how people would react."

The club said Kenny Dalglish had not seen Johnson's comments and so would not speak about them as he answered questions about Saturday's trip to Sunderland this morning.

Dalglish did confirm, however, that captain Steven Gerrard and Johnson would return to training today.

The pair missed last weekend's first home defeat of the season against Arsenal after sustaining injuries on international duty.

However, both had only minor problems and Dalglish is looking forward to their return.

"Steven and Glen are back in training today, so we'll see how they are," said the Scot.

Asked whether the return of Gerrard will provide Liverpool with a boost, the 61-year-old added: "I wouldn't restrict it to just Stevie - it's a good boost for us to have anybody back, Steven included.

"Having Glen back as well, who was doing fantastic, will be good for us.

"We'll see how they do in training and judge it from there."

PA

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