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By ESPN Staff

Reina leaps to defence of Suarez

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina believes striker Luis Suarez has been "crucified'' over his racism charge.

• Suarez banned for eight games
• Liverpool hit back after Suarez ban
• FA confirm ban could be extended
• Lawyer: Suarez likely to appeal ban
• Choose your Prem Lge XI of 2011

Suarez was given an eight-match ban by the Football Association on Tuesday after being found guilty of misconduct for using insulting words to Patrice Evra which included a reference to the Manchester United defender's colour.

Liverpool are expected to appeal the punishment and they have 14 days from receiving the independent commission's decision to decide their course of action.

Reina believes the 24-year-old, who was targeted with chants of "racist'' and "cheat'' in the 0-0 goalless draw at Wigan, has been treated unfairly.

The Liverpool players issued a statement backing the player before the game and during their warm-up all wore T-shirts depicting an image of Suarez and his name and number seven.

"We are all right behind him. He has our full support,'' said Reina. "We made a statement earlier and we said what we thought was the truth. We were together from the very first minute (of the allegations) and it is the minimum we can do for him.

"He is not racist. I am 100% he is not racist and he has been accused of racism. We showed our support to Luis. We want him and everyone to know we are right behind our team-mate because he is a lovely guy and he has been crucified by some people and it is not fair. Eight games is not even close to be fair.''

Reina said the threat of losing Suarez for an extended period would be a blow, but felt the player was coping well with the situation, which has been on-going since mid-October.

"The most important thing is he is doing his job for the team,'' added the goalkeeper. "He played well for the team (against Wigan) and he has to keep playing and help the team as much as he can.

"Obviously we are going to enjoy him as long as we can and then we will see what happens.''

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