Sturridge, 26, has spent most of the last 12 months on the treatment table as hip and thigh issues have plagued the talented forward.
[ PLAYBACK: Sturridge can save Liverpool ]
However the England international seems to have turned the corner, as he scored twice against Aston Villa last weekend (including this beauty of a volley for his first goal since March) but Rodgers is reluctant to overuse Sturridge and is therefore not using him in their Europa League tie against Sion on Thursday.
Liverpool’s boss has also urged England manager Roy Hodgson to be careful with Sturridge if he is called up for the Three Lions’ upcoming EURO 2016 qualifiers next week.
“Daniel is back in the fold now and he is obviously one of the top English strikers,” Rodgers said. “If he is back fit and performing I would expect him to be chosen for the national team. But at this moment in time it is about making sure he is fit and ready for Liverpool.”
“Daniel has worked very, very hard and he has got back ahead of schedule. We have just got to make sure that we don’t break him at this stage.”
It’s easy to see why Rodgers is wary of “breaking” Sturridge as the Liverpool forward has become hugely important to the Anfield club.
After missing most of last season — Sturridge made just 17 appearances in all competitions for the Reds, most of which he wasn’t 100 percent fit in — it’s like a new signing for Rodgers as he finally has his main goalscorer back fit and able to lead Liverpool’s push for a top four finish. Liverpool’s other strikers managed just eight goals between them last term as they finished in sixth spot. Sturridge’s goals would have made a huge difference last season and if he stays fit this season and can recpature the form which saw him and Luis Suarez score 52 goals between them during the 2013-14 campaign, the Reds and Rodgers will be sitting pretty come the end of the season.
The worry for Liverpool and Rodgers is that Sturridge will continue to break down, just as he initially did while on England duty in September last year when all of is injury issues began. Ever since then, Liverpool have been deprived of their star striker which has heaped considerable pressure on Rodgers as some sections of the media and fans have called for the Northern Irishman to be replaced.
Sturridge’s importance to Liverpool, and Rodgers, is huge. The Liverpool boss is right to protect him.