"We have been organising some games behind closed doors," said Brendan Rodgers when asked about Liverpool's efforts to prepare Luis Suarez for his return against Manchester United next week. "Both in terms of in-house 11-a-side matches and bringing teams in. In between that he has had international games as well to keep him ticking over."
Though he's yet to see any first team action for Liverpool since picking up his ban, Suarez again played in a behind closed doors friendly on Tuesday, when he went the distance against Championship side Burnley. Liverpool, though, did lose the match by a score of 2-0.
Add in Suarez' involvement in the more competitive training matches Rodgers has continued over from pre-season, and it's clear the club has been focused on making sure the striker can jump straight back into the first team action when his ban lifts and won't spend weeks getting up to speed.
"He has been doing a lot of individual work specific to him on top of all that and replicating his high intensity speed runs that he would do in a game," added the manager. "It is not the same as playing in a match but say he did 100 high-intensity runs in a game, he has been replicating that in training so that he is at a level where we hope he will hit the ground running.
"There are always other things in a game—the crowd and the anxiety, you cannot replicate that in training—but what you can at least do is get him to a level of fitness so that his numbers are replicated and that keeps him at a high level. The idea is that hopefully when he steps back in it will be seamless."
With Philippe Coutinho out for six weeks with a shoulder injury, fans will be hoping Rodgers' efforts to get Suarez up to speed beforehand are successful.
Suarez Ready to Take a Bite out of Manchester United
Despite having not played competitively for Liverpool since last season, manager Brendan Rodgers is convinced the club can get Luis Suarez up to match speed before his return against Manchester United in the League Cup.