• Liverpool manager says striker is 'tough character'
• 'Suárez's rehabilitation will be measured over time'
Brendan Rodgers will have "no hesitation" in deploying Luis Suárez against Manchester United but admits the Liverpool striker's rehabilitation faces a greater challenge than a charged return at Old Trafford.
The Uruguay international is pressing to start Wednesday's Capital One Cup tie having served a 10-match suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic on 21 April. Rodgers believes the third-round draw "stoked" Suárez's efforts in training and, as against Notts County in round two, the Liverpool manager will field a strong side in an attempt to take the shortest route to Wembley.
Suárez would be guaranteed a hostile reception at United irrespective of his recent ban, having received an eight-match suspension for using racially abusive language towards Patrice Evra in 2011 and failed to shake the defender's hand when they next met. But Rodgers insists the combination of the striker's history with United and return from another lengthy ban will not influence his selection against David Moyes's side.
"I have got no hesitation about playing Luis," the Liverpool manager said. "Since I have been here there has never been an issue with anything like that. There is the history of the clash but it won't enter my mind. Luis is a tough character. He is resilient and one of the strongest-willed characters I have met in my life. I don't think he will bat an eyelid at that. He is a fighter and his will and desire to succeed is there for everyone to see. We are just delighted to have him back. I know the players are happy we are bringing someone back like that of that quality."
Rodgers concedes, however, that Suárez must demonstrate his temperament has improved over the long term and not simply on a one-off occasion against Liverpool's fiercest rivals. The 26-year-old has twice been banned for biting an opponent, having received a seven-match suspension for sinking his teeth into PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal in 2010, and Liverpool provided psychological support to the striker during his latest absence.
Asked if United away represents the ultimate test of whether the striker has learned from the Ivanovic controversy, Rodgers replied: "I don't think so. I think that [test] will come over time. It won't be a one-off game. Of course this will be a great game if he is picked in the team. He will just be happy to pull on the shirt for real. It doesn't matter where that would be, whether it was Old Trafford or another stadium. I think we will see the lessons learned and that maturity over time."
The Liverpool manager has said Suárez is aware he owes the club having collected suspensions totalling 20 matches in the past two seasons and received steadfast support from supporters. But Rodgers claims to be unconcerned that the striker's volatile reputation will see him targeted increasingly by Liverpool's opponents.
"I don't think he will be targeted any more than he has been before," he said. "Luis is that type of player. He will always provoke the tackle. The work that he does in and around the box will always make defenders be on the back foot. It is part of the game and you have to put up with that. I think this is a good game for us after the disappointment of the weekend [Saturday's defeat by Southampton]. Luis will be a part of it. I'm sure that when Luis knew he would be available for this fixture it would have really stoked him up to make sure he was ready. You could argue that this is a really good game for him to come back into."
Liverpool beat United in the Premier League at Anfield just over three weeks ago and would intensify the scrutiny on Moyes with victory in the Capital One Cup. Rodgers admits there are parallels between him replacing a legendary figure in Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool manager and Moyes succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, and is prepared for a reaction from United following their mauling in Sunday's Manchester derby.
"David is having to manage change after someone with Sir Alex Ferguson's track record and that is a different pressure altogether," said Rodgers. "I came in after Kenny, who is a legend of the club, but you have to put your own mark on things and do things as you see fit. I'm sure David, like myself, will make every decision that is best for his club. He will be better for the experiences of this year and that will help him move them on. This is the first time that people have been able to look at United and scrutinise the club in years. A change of manager will always do that. But they are the champions. It is still a champion squad and I'm sure David is looking to make his own mark on it."