Controversial, brilliant and never dull, Luis Suarez is set to return to action with Liverpool on Wednesday, five and a half months after he was banned for 10 matches for biting an opponent.
Having spent much of the summer accusing Liverpool of breaking a promise that he could leave the club if they did not qualify for the Champions League, the 26-year-old is likely to play against Manchester United in the Capital One Cup at Old Trafford.
The Uruguay striker completed his ban — for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic on the arm during a Premier League match — on Saturday and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said he could not wait to get back on the pitch.
“He certainly comes back into the squad and we’re delighted to have him,” Rodgers said.
“It has been a really difficult time for him in terms of not playing games. But I’ve got to say, how he has prepared himself over the last number of weeks has been fantastic, with his attitude in training and everything.
“Everyone knows the depth of his qualities, and his attitude - he’s non-stop in his commitment and I’m sure once he gets back onto the field again, he’ll show what he has shown since he’s been here, which has been top quality.”
Having been banned for eight matches the previous season after being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra of Manchester United, Suarez has courted controversy in his time at Liverpool, and at Ajax, where he was also banned for biting.
But the Uruguay striker is fundamental to his side’s hope of a place in the top four of the Premier League and he has been playing behind the scenes matches, as well as turning out for his country in recent World Cup qualifiers.
Suarez has scored 51 goals in 96 appearances for Liverpool and Rodgers said his return was a huge boost to the club.
The manager told reporters Suarez had received help in all facets of the game, including psychologically, in his time away and expected him to hit the ground running on his return.