Monday, July 22, 2013

Luis Suarez to line up against Victory

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Liverpool rates Australian fans among its best

Liverpool FC 'not surprised' Wednesday's match is nearly sold out, as Australia is the club's third largest market in the world.

Volatile striker Luis Suarez is likely to make his first appearance of the season for Liverpool on Wednesday night in a match at the MCG that is likely to break the revered English club's attendance record.

Uruguayan Suarez, whose tenure at Liverpool has been clouded by media reports citing an apparent desire to leave the club and interest from rival Premier League team Arsenal, has joined the rest of Liverpool's players and coaches, who arrived in Melbourne on Sunday evening.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said he was buoyed that Suarez had joined the squad and expected him to feature against Melbourne Victory.

Champing at the bit: Liverpool striker Luis Suarez in Melbourne on Monday.

Champing at the bit: Liverpool striker Luis Suarez in Melbourne on Monday. Photo: Getty Images

While Rodgers said he had yet to have formal discussions with Suarez, he again downplayed the persistent suggestions the noted goalscorer could be on the move.


''I'm quite relaxed. Luis was out here as expected, he's an integral part of our squad. We'll chat at some stage, as we do with all the players, but he's back and he's in great spirits,'' Rodgers said.

''Over the course of the next few weeks we'll communicate, but I've been having regular communication with him throughout the summer.''

Asked whether he expected Suarez to remain at Liverpool, Rodgers replied: ''Very much so. ''There's been a lot of speculation through the course of the off-season, but the reality is he's a player that's very much valued at Liverpool.

''Unless there's any sort of offer that comes in which is anywhere near his value, then there's nothing to consider - and we haven't had that.''

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said the Merseyside club had great support in Australia, so much so that it ranked in its top five for countries in most commercial areas.

''The club's been around for a hundred years now and it's taken it a long time to come to these shores,'' he said.

''It's right and proper that with such a strong commercial backing from our fans down here that we bring the team here.''

Ayre said he expected the attendance for the sold-out match would be the biggest for a Liverpool match.

Rodgers said he and the club were honoured to have the opportunity to play on the MCG.

''It's going to be incredible [with almost] 100,000 in the stadium. We know it's going to be a tough game for us. That's the reason for coming here, as part of our preparation for the Barclays Premier League,'' he said.

''We're very honoured to be playing at such an iconic sporting venue throughout the world, not just here in Australia. To be sold-out is remarkable but … it doesn't surprise me, because the support for this club really is worldwide.

''We're really looking forward to the whole experience of Melbourne and Australia. That will culminate with the mood at the game on Wednesday.''

Rodgers said he was hopeful that the club's Australian reserve goalkeeper Brad Jones would be fit to play against Melbourne Victory, having missed its last exhibition match on Saturday night in Indonesia due to ''a little knock''.

He said he expected all of the club's first-choice players, including captain Steven Gerrard, to feature. ''The players aren't quite up to 90 minutes yet … We're only three weeks into our preparation, but they'll all be involved,'' he said.
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