Klopp on subbing Sturridge: “I couldn’t see he could sprint anymore”

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LONDON — There are plenty of positives surrounding Liverpool right now.

[ MORE: 3 things learned

Jurgen Klopp‘s side won 2-1 at Chelsea on Friday night, taking them to 10 points from their opening five games of the season as they’ve now beat Arsenal, Leicester City and Chelsea.

Like I said, plenty of reasons for optimism among Liverpool’s fans.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Slow start for Blues ]

That said, one slightly worrying scene from their win at Stamford Bridge would’ve been Daniel Sturridge subbed out 12 minutes into the second half.

Moments before he was substituted, Sturridge appeared to be having a disagreement with Klopp over which position he should have been in to stop Chelsea building from the back. Moments later Klopp replaced Sturridge, who didn’t look injured, and the England international walked straight down the tunnel to the dressing room after briefly shaking Klopp’s hand.

Why did Sturridge come off?

“I couldn’t see that he could sprint any more. That is why I changed it,” Klopp told reporters afterwards. “We had a healthy, young striker on the bench, that is all. First half was really good from Daniel. In the second half, we need this player there in the center we can play with and if there is a ball in-behind sometimes then he can go there and we can push up the last line… I don’t think it is an injury, it is only the situation. Nobody told me about an injury. All is good.”

Despite it being “all good” there is a lingering sense that Sturridge could well be the odd man out in this Liverpool side. We all know about his supreme goalscoring pedigree — 55 goals in 96 games in all competitions for Liverpool says as much — but he is a player who thrives on crosses into the box and is perhaps better when playing off another striker, like he did with Luis Suarez a few years ago.

Klopp was saved from having to make a very difficult lineup decision on Friday with Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino out injured. Firmino has been flourishing in a false nine position and it was highly likely Sturridge could’ve been left out. With Divock Origi more mobile and willing to run in-behind, he seems to fit Klopp’s model better than Sturridge does. Couple that with Klopp’s comments about Sturridge’s fitness last season and it easy to believe there is more going on here behind-the-scenes.

You can see a growing feeling of frustration from the England international who has failed to score in the Premier League this season.

Klopp’s comments afterwards were telling and despite his undoubted talent, Sturridge could be a stranger in Liverpool’s starting lineup in the weeks to come.