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Feb 28, 2013

Rodgers praises 'phenomenal' Suarez

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes that Luis Suarez is the outstanding candidate for the Player of the Year award.

The Uruguayan has scored 26 goals for Liverpool, including 18 in the Premier League, and Rodgers feels he has been "phenomenal" in the current campaign.

The Reds boss feels that Suarez's performances as a lone striker, when he was the only fit forward at Anfield, should put him in line for individual honours.

Robin van Persie and Gareth Bale are other candidates to be crowned the finest footballer in England but Rodgers - echoing comments from Lucas Leiva - championed Suarez's case.

"He has been phenomenal," he said. "That is not just my opinion as his manager. If I look across the board, this is a guy who had to play alone up front because he was the only striker we had for nearly six months and never missed a day's training and he played every minute of every game. His performances have spoken for themselves.

"There's many great players in this league but for me he has been absolutely outstanding. I couldn't look much further than Luis."

Suarez scored 17 times last season but Rodgers believes he added a clinical edge to his all-round game.

He added: "You have seen Luis' cleverness and his movement and his intensity. When I came in everyone was talking about his finishing, how many chances he missed and whatnot, but you look at his conversion rate this year, his chances and the goals he has put away - he has been brilliant. He is a terrific focal point for the team."

Rodgers compared Suarez with his new strike partner, Daniel Sturridge, adding: "They are two top players. They have got different strengths and qualities.

"Daniel is hungry for goals and wants to play on the shoulder [of the defender]. Again his movement is really good. People will associate him with pace and power and running ability and shooting ability but when both of them play in and around each other, they find space really well.

"With Daniel, you have got that possibility to play in behind and penetrate and go over the top and in between [defences] and when he is away he is very hard to catch because he is so fast. They are a real potent threat so that partnership is growing all the time. It is pleasing to see."

Sturridge is Liverpool's only doubt for Saturday's game against Wigan but Rodgers is optimistic the former Chelsea forward will be fit.

He added: "Daniel has had a little knock but we will assess that in the next day or so and we will see how he is for the weekend."

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