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  1. ITV Report

Liverpool boss Rodgers backs Suarez for top award

Player of the year? Luis Suarez Photo: PA Pictures

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is hopeful the quality of football played will decide the winner of the Professional Footballers' Association's Player of the Year award after controversial Reds striker Luis Suarez was shortlisted.

Suarez is far from the most popular player in the Barclays Premier League, and his admission earlier this season that he had dived in an attempt to win a penalty did little to enhance his reputation, which was tarnished by last season's controversy which saw him banned for eight matches after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

Suarez will face stiff competition from Tottenham's Gareth Bale and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie, but Rodgers hopes the criteria which will be used to ascertain the player of the year will be based on football skills alone.

"I would hope it would be football and consistency," Rodgers said.

Also nominated: Robin Van Persie Credit: PA Pictures

"The players that have been mentioned are top-quality players - players like Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie have had outstanding seasons but I can only look at Luis as a player.

"I have the great advantage of working with him and seeing the warrior spirit he is and I don't think there is any club in the country that wouldn't want him in their team.

"What he has done for us this season has been amazing. He would certainly be my favourite for it - and he'd thoroughly deserve it."

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas hailed Bale's "outstanding year" after the Spurs winger was named on the shortlists for both Player and Young Player of the Year.

Bale appears in both categories with Chelsea's Eden Hazard, while Juan Mata and Manchester United's Michael Carrick joining the Welshman, Suarez and Van Persie in the senior category.

In the Young Player shortlist, Bale is pitted against Hazard, United's Danny Welbeck, Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, Christian Benteke of Aston Villa and Romelu Lukaku, who has spent the season on loan from Chelsea at West Brom.