By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Daniel Sturridge has been personally told by David James to ignore all criticism about his willingness to play through the pain barrier.
The Liverpool striker spoke of his “devastation” on Wednesday about spending so much time on the sidelines and the “disappointing” and “hurtful” public comments about his injury-plagued 18 months.
But former Liverpool goalkeeper James has advised Sturridge to block out all criticism.
He said: “Daniel Sturridge is a wonderful player, but his fitness issues have been a concern,” said James on BT Sport ahead of the Merseysiders’ 1-0 win over Augsburg on Thursday night.
“I spoke to Daniel a few weeks ago when I was up at the Liverpool training ground and it was bothering him then, passionately bothering him.
“Which is nice in one respect the fact that he is actually feeling emotional [about the criticism] but the other thing is that he is listening to pundits to gauge a view of his performance, which I wouldn’t recommend.”
Sturridge has started Liverpool’s last three matches, and played in the club’s last four, after missing the previous 15 with a hamstring problem.
He spearheaded the attacked impressively against Augsburg on Thursday as Liverpool qualified for the last 16 of the Europa League.
Speaking on Wednesday, the striker said: “When I’m not playing, I’m devastated. I’m not just at home or out with my friends chilling. All I want to do is play football. It hurts to hear what people have said.
“To say a player doesn’t want to play is the biggest disrespect to a footballer. Astonishing, disappointing.”
In total, he has started just 16 of the last 98 competitive Liverpool matches and only one Premier League match during Klopp’s four-month reign, in which they thrashed Aston Villa 6-0.
In other Liverpool news, manager Jurgen Klopp has claimed