LIVERPOOL'S determination to seek peace talks with Manchester United strengthened after the clubs were paired in an FA Cup fourth round draw which also pitted QPR against Chelsea - the match-up which embroiled England captain John Terry in his own racism row with Anton Ferdinand.
The draw, which produced the two matches the Football Association would have been dreading, preserves the prospect of Luis Suarez making his comeback against Sir Alex Ferguson's side, should the north-west tie go to a replay. The Uruguayan had been due to complete his eight-game ban for directing the word "negro" at United's Patrice Evra in time to face Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield, nine days after the Cup tie, and had already been facing the prospect of Liverpool's trip to Old Trafford in the League being his first away game after the ban.
But if the Anfield Cup tie goes to a replay, Suarez could face United twice in three or four days upon his return. Dalglish, whose side lost in the third round to United last season, is adamant Suarez must not be kept out of the Premier League game and his indignation about the striker's innocence suggests he would want to throw him into a Cup replay, too.
Dalglish had already feared that the Suarez-Evra episode could bring some of the worst abuse ever visited upon a Liverpool player and his club have been preparing to seek United's help to limit it. But Ferguson dismissed the idea in his press conference on Friday. "It is nice of them to do it through the press," he said. "You would have thought they would come to Manchester United first. I do not see why there is any need for it. I have nothing to say about it."
With both managers entrenched in defences of their players, Greater Manchester Police may remind the managers of their responsibilities not to inflame the situation in their pre-match comments.
The scope for vitriol in west London is just as great with QPR and Chelsea to meet at the Loftus Road ground where Terry was accused of racist abuse in the 23 October League match. QPR won 1-0.
Meanwhile, the man arrested on suspicion of racially abusing an Oldham player during an FA Cup match at Liverpool was released on bail by police, pending further inquiries. Defender Tom Adeyemi was reduced to tears by insults from fans during Friday's defeat and had to be comforted by teammates and oppoition players toward the end of the third-round match. Merseyside Police arrested a 20-year-old man from Aintree on Saturday on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence. Adeyemi has spoken to police, according to the players' union.
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