Daniel Sturridge has made 30 Premier League appearances just once (2011-12 season, for Chelsea) in the eight seasons since he broke into the Manchester City first team back in 2008.
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In 2014-15, just months after his best season as a pro (21 goals in 29 league games for Liverpool, who very nearly won the PL title in 2013-14), Sturridge made just 12 appearances and scored four goals. Robbed of yet another campaign due to constant injuries.
The 2015-16 season hasn’t been anymore kind to the 26-year-old, who to this point has appeared in just five of the Reds’ 18 games, and scored two goals. Once again, a string of injuries has relegated the England frontman to watching from the stands more often than not. According to the man himself, though, he’s back in training (again) and in a big hurry to return to action (but for how long this time?).
Sturridge’s impending return couldn’t have come at a better time for Liverpool, who on Boxing Day (Saturday) saw recently first-choice striker Divock Origi pick up a hamstring injury in a 1-0 victory over table-topping Leicester City. The Belgian striker is expected to miss a few weeks.
The timing, however, isn’t so great for Sturridge, who could now be thrust back into the team with the expectation he’ll “save the season.” Ideally, a player with Sturridge’s injury history would be eased back into game action as a substitute, not asked to start and play 70, 80 or 90 minutes from the start. With Origi out, and $50-million summer signing Christian Benteke not really fitting into manager Jurgen Klopp‘s fast-paced, high-intensity system, more will likely be asked of Sturridge from the day he returns than might be most beneficial for the player.
While the rest of the league returns to action on Monday or Tuesday, Liverpool don’t play again until Wednesday, when they’ll make their annual trip to the Stadium of Light to take on 19th-place Sunderland (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).