Date: 11th February 2016 at 2:32pm
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By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Michael Owen has claimed that some of the criticism of Daniel Sturridge is “unfair” – but called on Liverpool to stop the rumour mill disparaging the injury-plagued striker.

Sturridge made his comeback following a 15-match absence as a 59th-minute substitute in Liverpool’s 2-1 extra-time FA Cup defeat to West Ham on Tuesday.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hinted early in his tenure that the 26-year-old is not prepared to play through the pain barrier and will only make himself available if he is 100 per cent fit without providing further explanation.

Former Liverpool striker Owen, who was dogged by injury problems during his playing career, believes it is unfair to point the finger at Sturridge without knowing the full facts.

“I find it hard to have a view on Daniel Sturridge until we find out what’s wrong,” said Owen, speaking to BT Sport. “The club have not really said. Until we know exactly what problems he has had or has got, it is fuelling a lot of rumours.

“People are saying things that are potentially unfair. I have been injured before and if he is getting muscle injuries then I have every sympathy because they are debilitating. You cannot play on with muscle injuries, they just tear, tear and tear until they erupt. It is the worst thing ever.

Michael Owen believes Manchester City's defeat at Stoke has blown the title race wide open

Rumour mill: Owen has called on Liverpool to explain extent of Sturridge injuries

“However, if he has joint pain – an ankle, a knee and a hip – it can be manageable. It is all about pain thresholds. We have not really been given the information so I do wince a little bit when I see people having a real go.

“I wish we knew a bit more. We all get texts on our phones saying Sturridge has done this or that, but it is all people guessing.”

Despite the fact he has only made seven appearances for Liverpool so far this season, Owen still believes Sturridge is capable of playing his way into Roy Hodgson’s England squad for this summer’s European Championships if he can stay fit.