Brendan Rodgers is remaining guarded over whether Luis Suarez’s Liverpool comeback will be at Manchester United in the League Cup next week.
Following close-season uncertainty over whether he would remain at the club, Suarez will this weekend sit out the last of his 10-match suspension for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic back in April when Southampton head to Anfield.
That leaves the Uruguay international striker free to face United in Wednesday’s eagerly-anticipated third-round tie at Old Trafford.
Rodgers, though, is not prepared to reveal either way if Suarez will return against Liverpool’s arch rivals.
He told The Daily Mail: “It will be something to consider.
“I won’t say (strikers) miss it more, but they miss it in a different way. Suarez loves the game and if he doesn’t play the game, it kills him.
“The integral part of it all is the game. That’s what he is.
“And if you put him in that environment where he’s smelling the smelling salts and the changing room, it can be counterproductive, so we’re going to keep him out of the way.”
The Ivanovic incident overshadowed what was a fantastic season on a personal level for Suarez in 2012-13 as he scored 23 Premier League goals in 33 appearances.
It is five months since the 26-year-old’s last competitive game at club level, with Rodgers impressed by Suarez’s attitude in training as Liverpool tried to keep him as match fit as possible.
Rodgers added: “We tried to map something out over the period he’s been out.
“He’s played some games in pre-season, but when the league got started we organised some 11 v 11 matches behind closed doors, both among ourselves and bringing teams in.
“He’s had international games as well that have kept him ticking over. He’s been doing a lot of specific work to replicate what he would do in a game, high-intensity work.
“It’s never quite the same as a game but at least he’s getting the work.
“I’m really looking forward to having him back. He’s working his socks off.”