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Sep 21, 2012

Rodgers: Suarez will shake hands

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is confident Luis Suarez will shake hands with Manchester United defender Patrice Evra ahead of Sunday's emotionally charged match at Anfield.

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Suarez was handed an eight-match ban by the FA after being found guilty of racially abusing the France international at Anfield last season, and refused to shake Evra's hand when the teams met at Old Trafford on his return.

Sunday's game is Liverpool's first at Anfield since the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel cleared the club's supporters of any role in the deaths of 96 fans during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, with both sides set to pay tribute to the dead and their families prior to kick-off.

Rodgers echoed Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's expectations that both sets of supporters will respect the tributes, and expects as much of his players. When asked if he was confident that Suarez would shake Evra's hand, the Northern Irishman answered: "Very".

"I haven't [spoken with Suarez], to be honest," Rodgers said. "It was an episode that went right the way through last season. It's a new season, it's another game, and we'll look to both sets of players.

"Having worked here with Luis Suarez over the course of these early months, he's a good guy, he's a good man, and he's very strong, so I'm sure there'll be no problems at the weekend."

Rodgers paid tribute to clubs across the country that have paid their respects to the memories of the 96 as Liverpool prepare for an emotional day for the Reds.

"A lot of clubs have shown their support, which has been fantastic. This is our opportunity, first and foremost, to do that at Anfield. Obviously it's an important day because they deserve that respect from both teams and both supporters, and then we move onto the game, which will be also equally important."

Liverpool are also looking to bounce back from a tough start to the season, but Rodgers believes his efforts to instil the ethos in the club that brought him great success at Swansea are starting to bring rewards.

"We haven't got the rub of the green sometimes in the games but every day our spirit is getting better and stronger the more we get to know each other," Rodgers added.

"Everyone talks about this style that we're trying to introduce, what's even more important for me is the steel in this team. We're starting to see that, and that'll be important for us going forward."

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