COMMENT By Matt Farr
Daniel Sturridge is an unbelievable talent. He has shown his class time and time again at both Premier League and international level, yet once again, there are doubts over his future at Liverpool.
A ruthless finisher, Sturridge has netted 58 goals from 105 appearances in all competitions at Anfield – a record that beats many of Liverpool’s previous strikers.
But there is one problem that continues to prevent him from reaching the very top level. Sturridge simply can’t stay fit.
The 27-year-old striker has managed just 15 appearances so far this season, having missed part of the campaign with a calf injury, while he managed just 14 Premier League appearances the season before.
He missed the start of the 2015-16 campaign with a hip injury, then made three appearances before being sidelined again, this time with a knee injury.
Then after two appearances, he was out with a hamstring injury. His injury record is not at all flattering and that has left Liverpool with somewhat of a dilemma.
On his day, Sturridge can be a match-winner. He’ll get in the right areas, create chances, and put the ball in the back of the net, but he just cannot be relied on anymore.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has often had to cope without him throughout his Anfield tenure, and with the introduction of Sadio Mane and Divock Origi to the first-team setup, has built an attack that is quite frankly flourishing without him.
Does this mean it is time for Sturridge to move on? Not necessarily, though you could argue his inability to complete a full season or put together a run of games says otherwise.
They could maybe do with another attacking player, just to add a bit more depth to the squad. But ultimately it’s not about getting rid of Sturridge.
Patience is the answer at this moment in time. Liverpool need to stick with him, and let him prove that his fitness won’t be an issue. He has the perfect opportunity in the coming weeks to show that to Klopp, who will be without Mane due to the Africa Cup of Nations, and Philippe Coutinho, who is still recovering from an ankle injury.
He found the back of the net in their last league game against Sunderland, and will look to pick up where he left off against Southampton in their EFL Cup semi-final meeting on Wednesday night.
If he can put together a rich vein of form, the doubters can forget about his ongoing injury concerns – albeit temporarily.
But admittedly, patience is not a long-term solution. If Sturridge picks up another long-term injury, or finds himself on the sidelines more often than he is on the playing field, he faces the prospect of being axed entirely.
Klopp is happy to keep him on board at the moment, but both his, and the fans’, patience can only go so far.
In other Liverpool news, Matt Le Tissier has ranked the five recent signings from Southampton.