Liverpool must not rush back star striker Daniel Sturridge if he’s not ready for action…
As if he didn’t already have enough to deal with, Brendan Rodgers’ managerial abilities are set to be severely tested as he considers when best to recall star striker Daniel Sturridge.
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The Liverpool striker has not played in a competitive game since August, and recently revealed that he will spend Christmas in Boston in a bid to speed up his return from injury.
BBC reports confirm that the 25-year-old has already spent time in Los Angeles working on his thigh injury and will now link up with medical specialists at baseball team Boston Red Sox.
While Luis Suarez regularly grabbed the limelight during their 18 months together at the club, Sturridge’s absence has arguably had a more damning effect on the Reds than the loss of the Uruguayan.
Sturridge scored 21 goals in 29 Premier League games last season, with the Reds losing just three games with him in the team. It’s also worth remembering that Liverpool went without Suarez until the end of September last season, and suffered defeat only once in that time.
It is therefore completely understandable that Rodgers would want the England international back in his team as soon as possible, especially considering the problems Mario Balotelli and co have had in front of goal so far this season.
Liverpool have scored just 19 goals in 16 games in the Premier League so far this season. Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard are join top-scorers with just three, while strikers Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini have just one goal between them.
However, despite sitting eleventh in the Premier League – 18 points off pace-setters Chelsea – and already being out of the Champions League, Rodgers must not rush Sturridge back, and risk further damaging a player that has regularly struggled with injuries.
Sturridge suffered his most recent thigh injury in training in November, having just returned to full training after thigh and calf injuries, and while the Red Sox have specialists who could help put an end to his persistent injury problems, a player’s career is potentially at stake.
Rodgers criticised England’s handling of Sturridge after he sustained his initial thigh strain while on England duty back in September, but he will now have to look at his own methods, after admitting that the club need to look at ways of “getting Sturridge on the pitch consistently”.
Fernando Torres also struggled with injuries during his time at Liverpool. After netting 33 goals in 46 game in his debut season, the Spaniard became a victim of his club’s over-reliance on his abilities.
Torres managed just 24 league games the following season, and only 22 the year after that, and while his form remained impressive during his time on the pitch, the damage had a lasting effect – as has been seen during his more recent struggles at Chelsea and AC Milan.
While his injury issues might be behind him, Torres has never been the same player since he left Anfield, and part of that is down to the demand that was placed on his body during his time on Merseyside. The problems have seen him lose his hunger, as well as that extra yard of pace.
Liverpool need to learn from their mistakes, and protect Sturridge as much as they possibly can. If they don’t, they risk seeing their star man go the same way as their former favourite, and with it their chances of reviving their season.
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