COMMENT By Emma Sanders
Daniel Sturridge should start ahead of Philippe Coutinho for Liverpool in their Premier League clash against Southampton on Saturday.
The table-toppers travel to St Mary’s following a heavy international break which saw 14 senior players in action from Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Sturridge, who has only made four Premier League starts this season, could be in contention to start the match after he produced an encouraging performance for England in their World Cup qualifier against Scotland.
The 27-year-old was named in Gareth Southgate’s starting XI and scored England’s opener as they recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory against the Scots.
He was rested for England’s 2-2 draw in a friendly with Spain on Tuesday night so he’ll be fully fit and confident for Saturday’s fixture should Klopp want to use him.
According to the Liverpool Echo, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino flew back to Liverpool on a private jet following their involvement with Brazil early on Wednesday morning, and will have had little time to rest before the game against Southampton.
They will take part in an intense training session on Thursday before travelling down south on Friday to top off a hectic and gruelling schedule for the South American duo.
Coutinho played 170 minutes of international football and may be in need of a rest on his return to Anfield – given Sturridge’s lack of opportunities this season it could be the perfect time to hand him a start.
Firmino, who only played a late cameo in the World Cup qualifier and was rested for the friendly with Panama on Wednesday, will be fit and ready to play. He could move out onto the left and still offer a threat while Sturridge should be allowed to play in his usual centre-forward position.
With the Reds going into the game on top form, it would hand the striker a much-needed opportunity to grab his first league goal of the season and, critically, would ensure Liverpool’s star man Coutinho is protected from overloading.
If Liverpool can get Sturridge scoring league goals too, their strength in attacking depth would be even more frightening and would massively boost their chances of a first Premier League win.
In other Liverpool news, this is the expected starting line-up to face Southampton with this key midfielder missing out.