Kolo Toure has said the return of Luis Suarez from his ten-match suspension is just what Liverpool need to recover from the blow of losing the Premier League leadership.
Brendan Rodgers’ side suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday, going down 1-0 to Southampton at Anfield, and Suarez sat out the match as he completed the domestic ban imposed for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a 2-2 draw at Anfield in April.
The Uruguay international’s future dominated the sports headlines throughout the summer as he made it clear that he wanted to leave Liverpool -- who refused to sell him in the face of a £40,000,001 bid from Arsenal.
But he has since made his peace with Rodgers -- who said after the Southampton game that he had been missed -- and is eligible to return for Wednesday’s Capital One Cup third-round trip to Manchester United.
Centre-back Toure told the Liverpool Echo: “Suarez’s return is going to be massive for us. He is a fantastic player -- a top striker who can score a goal at any time. He will strengthen the team.
“Daniel Sturridge has been playing so well for us, and the two of them will be a very strong partnership.”
Suarez has been able to play competitive international football during his ban, helping Uruguay to reach the Confederations Cup semi-finals in June and continuing to play a key role in their World Cup qualifying campaign.
The 26-year-old scored twice as Peru were beaten 2-1 in a qualifier on September 7, and featured in a 2-0 victory over Colombia four days later. In addition, Liverpool have helped him maintain match fitness by organising friendly matches behind closed doors.
And Toure said the striker -- Liverpool’s 30-goal top scorer last season -- was looking sharp.
He added: “I’m sure Suarez will be ready to be thrown back in. You saw that from his international appearance the other week. In the first game he had played for a while, he scored twice. That just shows how strong this guy is.
“He has been very difficult to defend against in training. He is a winner. He’s always working hard and fighting. You want that kind of player.”