By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Daniel Sturridge is technically on a par with with the best players in the world, according to Graeme Souness.
The TV pundit and former Liverpool manager is a huge admirer of the England international even though he is no longer an automatic starter when everyone is fit.
Sturridge is expected to start Wednesday’s Europa League final against Sevilla in Basle as Jurgen Klopp is likely to stick with the team that swept aside Villarreal 3-0 in the semi-final second leg at Anfield.
But the 26-year-old striker was overlooked for Liverpool’s previous three European clashes, with Divock Origi getting the nod for both legs of the Borussia Dortmund quarter-final and playmaker Roberto Firmino spearheading the attack in Villarreal.
Origi is back in the squad after missing a month with ankle ligament damage, an injury which occurred when the 21-year-old Belgian had started to establish himself as Liverpool’s first-choice striker ahead of Sturridge.
He was in sensational form before being sidelined but the best he can hoped for following his absence is a place on the substitute’s bench for the Europa League final.
Nevertheless, Souness is convinced Sturridge is the pick of the bench at Anfield, ahead of fellow attackers Origi, Christian Benteke and Danny Ings.
“I think Sturridge has as much ability as any striker out there in British football right now,” Souness told Sky Sports News. “I was going to say ‘in the world’, but the boys at Barcelona and Real Madrid are a wee bit different.
“Sturridge’s pure technical ability is up there with the very best. His problem is he just can’t keep himself fit. He has to solve that because he’s an exceptionally talented boy.”
Sturridge missed the first half of the season through injury but has continued his excellent scoring record since returning, with his 24 matches yielding 12 goals, eight of which have come from 14 Premier League games.
By contrast, Origi has scored 10 goals in 32 matches and Benteke has netted 10 times in 41 fixtures.
In other Liverpool news, the club are in talks to sign a new goalkeeper this summer.