By Merseyside correspondent Cam Downes
Daniel Sturridge is weeks away from a Liverpool comeback as he continues his recovery from injury, Football Insider sources understand.
The striker has returned to full contact training at the Merseyside club’s Melwood headquarters but he is not considered quite ready to play first-team football.
Liverpool are taking a cautious approach to the fitness of the 26-year-old following a nightmare 12 months in which he has suffered four separate serious injuries.
Reports have suggested Sturridge could be in line for a comeback against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday but the fixture is not considered a realistic date for him to return to the starting line-up.
Sources have told Football Insider that the England international is weeks away from playing for the first-team, with Liverpool staff keen not to rush him back into action.
Brendan Rodgers has been publicly cautious about putting pressure on the England international, who was restricted to just seven Premier League starts last season.
“There’s no timeline on Daniel,” the manager said ahead of Liverpool’s last match against West Ham. “He’s obviously been away working in America. He’s come back and it’s just about him working hard to get back to somewhere near the level of the group.
“But there’s no time on it. He’s come back, he looks well and he’s really excited and happy to be back amongst his teammates. So we will just have to take that week by week rather than put any pressure on him by giving a time.”
Sturridge’s problems began when he suffered a thigh injury during a training session while on England duty in September 2014.
He then picked up a calf problem a month later and a second thigh problem in late November, missing five months in total before returning at the end of January.
The striker tore a hip muscle against Manchester United in March, and although he played in Liverpool’s next two matches, he needed an operation in early May.
Sturridge’s first injury was blamed by Liverpool on England manager Roy Hodgson for pushing the player too hard in training.