Suarez to face City as Reds weigh options

 

Luis Suarez will return to the Liverpool line-up tonight for the first of three meetings this month between his side and Manchester City, but whether the Uruguayan striker will be free to play in the next two remains to be seen as the club are still to decide whether to appeal against his eight-game ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra.

Suarez missed Liverpool's defeat of Newcastle on Friday to serve a one-match suspension for an offensive gesture made at Fulham supporters. Liverpool have until 13 January to submit any appeal to the Football Association and the club have said they will take their time before reaching a decision. If they do appeal, they run the risk of the ban being increased but for the time being, Suarez is free to play and Kenny Dalglish includes him in the squad for the short trip to the Etihad Stadium.

Should Liverpool decide this week to accept the punishment Suarez, who has scored only one league goal in 10 matches since the clash with Evra, would miss five league games, Friday's FA Cup meeting with Oldham and both legs of their Carling Cup semi-final with City. It would mean he returned in time to play Everton next month. February is a tough month for Dalglish with games against Tottenham and Manchester United preceding the derby.

January is a busy period for both clubs. City play eight times and Liverpool seven. Tonight's hosts have had two days less to prepare for the game – a fixture they have a poor record in, having beaten Liverpool once in 13 meetings.

The Liverpool manager, who will consider handing a starting place to Steven Gerrard, has a degree of sympathy for Roberto Mancini over the quick turnaround. "People will say he has a massive squad and enough to field two teams but you have to take the players into consideration because they are the ones who are the main attraction," said Dalglish. "There has to be a bit of common-sense and a game on the first and third [of January] is a bit unreasonable. There has to be a reasonable amount of time for players to recover. But television has been massively helpful to the Premier League so we cannot cut off the hand that feeds us."

On Gerrard, who came off the bench to score against Newcastle, Dalglish said: "He is a fantastic player but we have to remember that he is still feeling his way back into it."

Mancini will make changes to the side that lost at Sunderland and is likely to have his own problematic striker back; Mario Balotelli is fit after an ankle injury. It means City have a full strength squad to select from as they look to open a three-point lead on Manchester United before their neighbours journey to Newcastle tomorrow night.

"Because we play two games in 48 hours, it's impossible to play the same players," said Mancini, who has cautioned his side to be more aware of being hit on the break, an area in which Liverpool, with the pace of Craig Bellamy, in form and looking to impose the law of the ex, will be a threat. "We need to pay attention in situations where we concede three or four counter-attacks," continued the City manager. "A top team can't concede situations like this. We want to try to score but sometimes you need to understand that there are some games you cannot score [in]."

Mancini believes City need to match their tally of points from the first half of the season – including nine wins out of nine at home – to take the title. He said: "We have 45 points and I think we need another 45 points in the second half."

Liverpool greats pay tribute to 'true Scouser' Ablett

Liverpool greats Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Ian Rush led the tributes to Gary Ablett, the former Liverpool and Everton defender who died yesterday at the age of 46 after a 16-month battle with cancer.

Rush described the Liverpool-born Ablett as a "true Scouser", while Hansen called him a "dedicated, consummate professional".

Dalglish handed Ablett (right), who joined the club as an apprentice, his debut in 1986 during his first spell as manager. Ablett went on to win two league titles and an FA Cup with Liverpool before joining Everton for £750,000 in 1992, where he won a second FA Cup to become the only player to lift the trophy for both clubs.

"He was a really good servant to the club, not only as a player but also as reserve-team coach," Dalglish said. "He served the club proudly and credibly. It's very sad."

Ablett, who also played for Birmingham City and managed Stockport County, had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2010, soon after taking a coaching role with Ipswich Town.

Hansen said: "He was a lovely guy and quite unassuming. It is such a shock even though we knew he was ill. We are absolutely stunned and cannot believe this has happened. [To die at] 46 years of age is absolutely tragic."

Rush said: "He sums up what people are like in Liverpool. What you saw is what you got with Gary. Whoever he played for, he gave 100 per cent. That's rare these days. In those days people just saw him as a normal player, but I think in today's game he'd be right up there."

Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
News
British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking
people
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence