Luis Suarez
Liverpool's suspended player Suarez watches from the stand ahead of their FA Cup match against Oldham Athletic at Anfield in Liverpool.

Liverpool legend Alan Hansen insists the return of Luis Suarez will be crucial for the club's chances of securing a top four finish this season and backed the Uruguayan forward to weather the hostility he will receive away from Anfield.

Suarez is available for Monday's clash against Tottenham Hotspur after serving an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra in October.

And the aforementioned Match of the Day pundit believes Liverpool's supporters will give Suarez a "hero's return" should he play at Anfield tonight.

"At Anfield, Suárez is a hero and, as such, he will be afforded a hero's welcome if he plays against Tottenham," the former Liverpool defender told the Daily Telegraph.

"When Liverpool sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea last January, I would never have believed in a million years that the love and adulation of the Spanish forward would be eclipsed by somebody else within six months.

"But that is what Suárez achieved. Even before the vocal backing of his club and supporters following the Evra case, Suárez had earned the respect and adoration of Anfield as a result of his contribution on the pitch.

"That is why his return can now be so crucial for Liverpool. With Suárez available once again, Kenny Dalglish's team has a much better chance of securing a top four finish this season."

Hansen acknowledged Suárez will undoubtedly face abuse and hostility away from Anfield but cautioned such treatment "is part of life as a footballer" and is unlikely to affect the Liverpool striker.

"When Luis Suárez returns to action for Liverpool on Monday night following the end of his eight-match suspension, he will be under intense scrutiny," said Hansen.

"But away from home, the opposition supporters will single him out for stick, no more so than at Old Trafford on Saturday when he plays against Manchester United and Patrice Evra for the first time since the whole affair between the two players erupted last October.

"Sadly, the abuse and hostility that awaits Suárez away from home is the nature of the business nowadays. Evra, similarly, was subjected to hostility at Anfield last Saturday when he returned with United.

"This is what Suárez must overcome when he returns from his suspension, but my experience of playing in hostile environments, in so-called 'cauldrons' during my time with Liverpool, is that the abuse from the crowd rarely has any impact.

"As odd as it might sound, you really don't hear the home fans when you are playing away. You only hear your own group of supporters."

Suarez's probable return for Liverpool against Spurs tonight will make the trip to Merseyside a tough excursion for Harry Redknapp's side.

Liverpool's players, management and fans have stood firmly by Suarez throughout the affair and Hansen remains adamant that support will stand the club in good stead as the battle for fourth place reaches a conclusion.

"The only thing that matters at Liverpool is playing in the Champions League and challenging for titles and, in terms of the former, Suárez is back for a potentially defining week of the club's season.

Spurs at home and United away are huge games for Liverpool this week, but I expect Suárez to prove his quality by making a difference," Hansen added.

"Last summer, he spent pretty much the whole of July playing for Uruguay in the Copa America, but rather than citing his international workload and the long journey from South America as a reason for a break, as soon as he returned to Liverpool, he wanted to play.

"The word from the training ground was that he had been sensational and totally committed, but he seems to be that type of guy."