Suarez still ‘very much part of the group’ at Liverpool, insists Rodgers

The Reds manager insists the striker remains key to the club’s preparations going into the new Premier League season, despite the ongoing speculation surrounding his future

Brendan Rodgers insists Luis Suarez remains “very much a part of the group” at Liverpool despite the striker’s desire to leave the club.

The Uruguay international is understood to be preparing to submit a transfer request to force through an exit from Anfield with Arsenal favourites for his signature after lodging a £42 million bid.

Suarez has now joined up with the squad on their current tour, following his participation in the Confederations Cup, and Rodgers is adamant it is vital that Suarez is involved in the club’s pre-season preparations.

“It is important [Suarez] is very much part of the group,” he told reporters.

“He has still got some way to go [with his fitness]. He is a number of weeks behind the other players.

“He is working hard on his conditioning and over the course of time as he gets closer to playing we will build him up to more minutes on the field.”

Suarez will miss the start of the Premier League season after being handed a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic last season and Rodgers is already making contingency plans.

“I also have to consider that our focus over the course of pre-season is for the first game [of the Premier League] and Luis will not be available for the first game,” he added.

Liverpool kick off their new campaign at home to Stoke City on August 17.

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