COMMENT By Will Butcher

Daniel Sturridge should be handed his first Liverpool start since October against Stoke on Boxing Day.

The 27-year-old forward returned from a calf injury in the Merseyside derby against Everton, as he came off the bench to strike the post in injury time before Sadio Mane tapped in the rebound.

Looking sharp, the Birmingham-born striker should be handed his first start since the EFL Cup win against Tottenham and here are three reasons why:

Form against Stoke

England international Sturridge has a superb record against Mark Hughes’ side, scoring in all three appearances against the Potters during his time on Merseyside. Stoke are likely to adopt a defensive approach at Anfield in two days’ time, and the Reds will need a player who knows how to find the back of the net against their sturdy defence. Sturridge can provide that for Jurgen Klopp’s side as he looks to worm his way back into his manager’s first-team plans.

Injury woes

With Philippe Coutinho still ruled out with a long-term ankle injury and Danny Ings out for the rest of the season, the former Chelsea ace could be included in the side. Sturridge could look to profit from his teammates spell by proving to manager Klopp why he deserves a starting spot. His unwavering desire to find the back of the net could prove crucial in the Merseyside giants clash against Stoke as they look to go within three points of league leaders Chelsea.

Firmino blip

Robert Firmino has failed to find the back of the net in the last six games for Liverpool, as he occupies a spot on the flank in place of Coutinho. Former Hoffenheim ace Firmino began the season in superb fashion with six goals in 12 league and cup appearances but has begun to stutter for the Reds. With his confidence likely to be low, Sturridge would provide a bigger attacking threat by cutting inside on his left foot from the right flank.

In other Liverpool news, Jamie Redknapp has predicted the outcome of the Reds’ clash against Stoke.