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Luis Suárez savours prospect of partnership with Andy Carroll

Beginnings, as Kenny Dalglish knows, are everything.

Luis Suárez savours prospect of partnership with Andy Carroll He marked his first game at Anfield with a goal and so, within 16 minutes of coming on against Stoke City, did Luis Suárez. Others are not so fortunate. As Newcastle United's manager, Dalglish brought Jon Dahl Tomasson to St James' Park, where he blew a one-on-one against Sheffield Wednesday. His game on Tyneside never recovered. On Sunday, against Manchester United, it is likely to be Andy Carroll's turn.

Whether he starts, the partnership with Suárez, upon which Liverpool have lavished £59m, cannot be long delayed. It is the classic big man, little man combination seen most effectively at Anfield when John Toshack and Kevin Keegan spearheaded Bill Shankly's attack. Having shaken off a thigh injury, Carroll has been training with Suárez for a number of days now and the Uruguayan has already wondered how defenders will cope.

"He hasn't played a competitive game for two months but it is up to us as a group to ease him back in after all that time away," Suárez said, nursing a cup of mate at Liverpool's training ground at Melwood. "My impressions so far are that he is very tall, good in the air and has great feet. You have to remember that defenders here are very tall; that's why the duels between them are very good to watch but I still don't know how they are going to cope with him."

Because of injury and suspension, the central defenders Sir Alex Ferguson will be able to deploy are the unconvincing combination of Chris Smalling and Wes Brown. "It is important for us that neither Vidic nor Ferdinand will be there," Suárez said. "But you have to say that any player who is at Manchester United must be there for a reason."

For much of his time at Old Trafford, many wondered what Diego Forlán, Uruguay's last contribution to the Premier League, was doing until in December 2002 he scored twice in three minutes at Anfield. After the second, Gary Neville ran up and told him: "They will never forget you after that."

As Suárez sips his mate through the traditional silver straw, the song United fans sang for Forlán is translated for him: "He comes from Uruguay, he made the scousers cry …"

"Diego told me that this will be the most important game of the year for them – as it will be for us," Suárez said. "To score in a game like this is something you dream of. That United fans still sing that for Diego shows the power of the fixture. We know how important it is that Manchester United do not win the title. It would be a big prize to stop them winning the league.

"I've played a lot of big derbies in Holland and Uruguay and for the national team, against Argentina and Brazil, so I am calm. The only derby I was ever nervous before was the one between Nacional and Peñarol when I was 18. If you become obsessed with how big the game is, you will get nervous and you'll take it into the match."

In Amsterdam he was known for what South Americans call picardía, a bit of devilment – the cunning and ability to be there when it counts. "It is a hard quality to explain," he said. "[Ruud] van Nistelrooy and Raúl have it. At Ajax [for whom he scored almost a goal a game] and Groningen I was in the right place at the right time."

He would hope that these qualities might erase the perception of him as the man whose handball in Johannesburg against Ghana helped steal the World Cup from Africa and whose career in Dutch football ended with a suspension for biting an opponent.

"Sofia [his wife who left Uruguay at 16 to join him in the modest Dutch town of Groningen] said that if I behaved off the field like I do on the field she would not be with me," he said. "It would be great if people in this country had a positive image of me. The fans loved me at Ajax.

"It is important for me to defend my team – that is what Uruguayans are like. When I wear the shirt of any team, I become a fan of that team."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Tim Rich, for The Guardian on Friday 4th March 2011 22.00 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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