Luis Suarez claims 'Liverpool can qualify for Champions League'

The Uruguay international has fired the Reds into contention to finish in the top four

Striker Luis Suarez is confident Liverpool can regain their Champions League status if they maintain their current form.

The Reds are currently fourth in the table, having been top at Christmas, and are looking to secure a place in European football's elite club competition for the first time since 2009.

Suarez's form will be pivotal to their chances and, after collecting his Barclays player of the month award for a record-breaking December, he is upbeat about their chances.

The Uruguay international has scored 20 goals already this season - all in the league - with half of those coming as the 26-year-old became the first player in Premier League history to reach double figures in a calendar month.

"It's so important when you work hard on the pitch and they recognise it when you win these prizes," Suarez told Sky Sports News.

"On the pitch I try to help Liverpool and I try to help the squad, and I think for confidence it is very good.

"If Liverpool continue at this level we can finish in the top four, which we want."

Manager Brendan Rodgers admits the experience of working with Suarez will last a lifetime.

It has not all been plain sailing for Rodgers after the player's failed attempts to manufacture a summer move, but the manager believes all that is now behind them after the striker signed a new contract last month.

"The experience of working with Luis is something which will stay with me for a lifetime," Rodgers told talkSPORT.

"(Just to be able) to work with someone with that determination and desire and will to win.

"He is a real old school player in that he is never injured and he loves to train.

"When I first came in I rested him in one or two cup games and I could see he didn't like it.

"What has been brilliant about these last four or five months has been the maturity of the man.

"He obviously had issues in the summer, but since the moment he decided to stay we talked him through how the club was evolving and he has been 150 per cent committed."

Rodgers believes he is well on course to deliver the requirements laid down by owner Fenway Sports Group when they appointed him in the summer of 2012.

With nine wins and only one defeat in 10 home league games this season, the club are turning Anfield into the fortress it once was.

"You are always striving to be better. In terms of the job I was asked to do when I came in we are well on track for that," the manager said.

"In three years we were given the objective to push for the Champions League.

"We made great strides in the calendar year (of 2013) and this season was about being in the competition (contending for the top four) because no-one was talking about Liverpool.

"We are on track but when you are fourth you always want to be third, second and ultimately first."

Defender Daniel Agger has confirmed he is expected to be sidelined for a month with a calf strain.

The Denmark international sustained the injury late in Sunday's 2-0 FA Cup win over Oldham and is likely to be out for a while.

"Disappointed with my injury! But I hope to be back strong within 4 weeks! Thanks for all the supporting tweets," the centre-back wrote on Twitter.

Agger's absence is a blow as Rodgers was just starting to get players back from injury.

The Dane's unavailability will be offset by the progress made by Mamadou Sakho's recovery from a hamstring strain ahead of Sunday's trip to Stoke, while striker Daniel Sturridge is back in full training having been out since the end of November with a sprained ankle.

Captain Steven Gerrard played 77 minutes against Oldham to add to the half an hour he had coming off the bench against Hull four days previously to show he had fully recovered from a hamstring strain.

"Over Christmas we were unfortunate we had a number of injuries which brought the squad down to about 15 players," said Rodgers.

"Thankfully over this last week we are starting to get one or two back and they are very important players for us.

"Steven (Gerrard) came back into the fold against Oldham, which was great, and Daniel is back training now, which is brilliant for us."

 

PA

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