Brendan Rodgers has opened the door to reintegrating wantaway striker Luis Suarez back into the Liverpool squad – but hopes his enforced isolation will cause him to reflect on his recent decisions and learn from his mistakes.
The striker has been doing his best to force a move away from Anfield without handing in a formal transfer request due to the financial implications it would have for the 26-year-old on his loyalty bonus, and he has been left out of the 22-man squad to face Celtic in Dublin this evening after he was made to train on his own.
Rodgers was furious with Suarez’s behaviour, identifying a “total disrespect” to the Merseyside club, and club owner John W Henry even went as far as to say that letting the Uruguayan move to Premier League rivals Arsenal would be “ludicrous”.
Speaking last night, Rodgers said: "Obviously Luis is training on his own at the moment and he understands totally where we're coming from.
"We're in no great rush, to be honest. I needed to make a decision in terms of the well-being of the group. The training through pre-season has been absolutely magnificent. The mentality of the players. I just couldn't afford to break that.
"But when the time comes, we'll come in and speak and once he's ready to train how he's always done we'll put him back in the group.
"It's been a difficult period for him but it's my job to protect the group and the football club. Once he's back in line with the spirit that everyone knows of him, and the commitment, then he'll rejoin the group.
"It's obviously been a difficult few days for him but he knows where we stand as a football club."
Arsenal saw a £40m plus £1 bid for Suarez immediately rejected before a war of words broke out between the two clubs, with Rodgers feeling that the Gunners pursuit of his prized asset was unsavoury and disrespectful.
However, Suarez fuelled the flames when he broke his silence to claim Liverpool had broken a promise to let him leave this summer should they fail to reach the Champions League.
Rodgers dismissed that any such clause exists, and Henry backed up the Northern Irishman on Thursday in an unprecedented statement making it clear that Suarez is not for sale.
"We're quite calm. The club is in control of the situation," Rodgers added. "The ownership have been brilliant.
"They've been quite adamant and clear and have supported our intention of wanting to keep him.
"Luis has got three years left of his contract and he's a player we don't want to sell. He's a player who's valued very highly around the world and someone who we made a conscious effort last season to build the team around - and he had a fantastic season.
"We've got no inclination to sell and we've been strong on that point, and we'll continue to be. And especially to a team that is a rival to us.
"We don't feel like we're fighting a losing battle. He's a contracted player for Liverpool and I'm fairly confident he'll remain that."
- More about:
- Celtic F.c.
- Liverpool FC
- Premier League
- UEFA Champions League