Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers remained coy on talk surrounding a new contract for striker Luis Suarez at a media conference today.
The Uruguayan has scored 17 goals in his 11 appearances so far this season, and Rodgers said at the moment he is just focussing on his football, but the manager has been full of praise for the striker ever since he returned to the side after his 10 match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic.
‘He’s matured and accepted the roles and responsibilities I’ve given to him as one of the senior players. He’s one of the pillars of the group for me.
‘We’re a young side and he’s taken on that mantle while really adding the X-factor he has to his game. He’s in a good place and his family is in a good place so long may it continue.’
The Reds boss also said that the squad is very small, after reports this week that youngsters Jordan Rossiter and Brad Smith are training with the first team, and hinted that he would like to add to the side in the upcoming transfer window – but also praised the spirit of his players after the thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
‘Of course we would want to reinforce that group, but it has to be players that are clearly better than what we have that can come in and help the group.
‘You saw the spirit in our team as well at the weekend. If you looked at our bench when we were scoring the goals and when we were winning, it was a happy bench.
‘There’s very much a togetherness here, and that’s one of the key facets of the season so far.’
Despite the need to call upon the younger players to senior training, Rodgers gave an update on the fitness of Steven Gerrard who was ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury, but there may be signs of an earlier than expected return.
He said: ‘Steven is coming along very well, he is outside working and running. For the other players, it is as it was – there are no fresh injuries.’
The Liverpool manager also expressed his dismay at the treatment of Cardiff City’s manager Malky Mackay by the club’s hierarchy after it was revealed he would have no money to spend in the transfer window.
Rodgers said: ‘I find it astonishing what he has had to go through. This is a guy who walked into Cardiff after they had lost in the play-off semi-finals and they waited two weeks to sack the manager on the day we [Swansea] were in the final which I found strange.
‘Malky walked into the club with 10 players that summer and he totally transformed the mentality of the club.’
image: © Bernard C