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The Uruguay international raced to the top of the Premier League scoring charts in the first half of the season, but has hit just four in eight since the New Year

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has played down Luis Suarez's recent barren spell in front of goal.

The Uruguay international scored 18 goals in 14 Premier League games up until January 1, but has managed just four in eight since the turn of the year.

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Strike partner Daniel Sturridge has flourished since returning from injury in mid-January, with nine goals in seven league matches, but Rodgers believes Suarez is no less important to the Reds' cause.

"It was natural the spotlight was on him this year because of his goals, but of the last 33 we have scored as a team, he has got four," he told reporters.

"That shows we are a collective who are not reliant on one player - but at the same time it doesn't diminish his influence on our team.

"Nearly 50 per cent of the goals we score either come from him or are assisted by him - it shows you the influence he has. It is also a great pointer to what he is.

"People maybe looked at him and thought that he plays for himself, but he has been a remarkable team player for us.

"That means his influence has not diminished. I think he is playing as well now as at any time during his goal-scoring run. In December, everything he hit was going in.

"Now what’s happening is he’s creating goals for other people but working just as hard and sometimes they’re not going in. But he’s still got a massive influence on the team."

Suarez will play his 100th match in the Premier League against Southampton on Saturday, and Rodgers has hailed the striker's work ethic and contribution to the team since he joined the club in 2011.

"Listen, the best players work the hardest," he added. "There is no secret about that. In particular, at a club like this, you have got to work your socks off from the off. That is how we play. We are really aggressive from the start.

"Luis has an incredible appetite and an aerobic capacity to work. He is robust, he can run and he can press. Whether he is scoring or not, that doesn’t change and it is vital to us."

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