By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Jurgen Klopp has thrown his weight behind Daniel Sturridge by naming the injury-plagued striker as one of the most talented players he has ever seen.

Sturridge made his comeback in midweek after a 15-match absence when he made a 61-minute appearance against West Ham in Liverpool’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat.

The 26-year-old emerged unscathed from that match and is in contention to play against Aston Villa in Sunday afternoon’s Premier League clash.

Klopp said: “Of course, he’s not 100 per cent. Who could be after this injury? But he is in a good way and that’s a good thing. It would be really silly if we always make a shadow on the present by thinking about the past.

“It’s really normal that everybody is asking about Daniel. He is one of the most talented players I have ever seen, for sure. And he was unavailable, so everybody was waiting. If nobody was waiting, then he wouldn’t have quality. That’s how it is.

“Football looks so easy when he plays. Nobody had a doubt about this for one second. That’s good for us. The next game is against Aston Villa and we will see how we can manage him.

Comeback kid: Injury-prone Daniel Sturridge returned to the team in midweek

Comeback kid: Injury-prone Daniel Sturridge returned to the team in midweek

Sturridge has been hampered by a series of serious injuries over the last 18 months and has had to endure a whispering campaign over the last 18 months about his willingness to play through the pain barrier.

In total, he has started just 13 of the last 95 competitive Liverpool matches and not a single Premier League match during Klopp’s four-month reign.