Daniel Sturridge has had a rough last 18 months. We can all agree on that.
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After battling back from injuries which saw him miss most of the 2014-15 campaign, he once again went down in 2015-16 and Jurgen Klopp is yet to see the best of Sturridge since he took charge in October 2015.
The German coach was a little critical of Sturridge’s pain threshold when he first took charge and constant reports linking him with a move away from Anfield, coupled with Klopp’s frustrations, did little to quell the suggestions that the England international would be playing elsewhere this season.
However, despite Klopp preferring to play Roberto Firmino in a false nine for most of last season, partly due to Sturridge’s injuries and a lack of form with just seven goals in 27 appearances, it appears Klopp has been impressed with Sturridge so far in preseason.
“It’s the best condition I’ve seen from him since I’m here. I came in October 2015 and Daniel, I think, was probably injured,” Klopp said. “Last preseason was after a tournament and only a short break. But this year he has had a proper break and is in a good physical shape, absolutely. Daniel could be part of the full preseason so far so that’s very important. It’s looking good. Preseason was quite intense, especially in England. He was part of pretty much each session so it’s good.”
Sturridge is 27 years old and is entering his prime. If he can stay injury free we all know what he’s capable of. This appears to be a make or break season for him.
His audacious goals and sumptuous link-up play with Luis Suarez in the 2013-14 season seem an age away, and although Klopp has Sadio Mane, Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Danny Ings and now Mohamed Salah to use in the front four attacking positions, Sturridge is the only top-class clinical finisher among them.
Had he been fit and sharp for most of last season, you wonder how many of those draws Liverpool would’ve turned into wins.
The old adage of “getting a good preseason in” rings true (get ready to hear it in October/November when a player is asked why he’s having such a good season) and perhaps no player in the PL needs an injury-free summer more than Sturridge.
If he does stay fit he will be like a new signing for Liverpool and he’ll be able do lead the line with a plethora of attacking talents behind him.