Big Year For … Daniel Sturridge

Can the perennially crocked Liverpool star finally get a run of games together this season…


Do you love the feel of cool leather against your skin? Or the feeling of another human being digging deep into your muscles with their strong, sensual fingers?

No we’re not describing the plot of the next 50 Shades film (sorry ladies). We’re just outlining the reality of Daniel Sturridge’s time at Liverpool so far, as the England striker has nearly spent more time on the physio’s treatment table than out on the pitch.

After a career blighted by injuries, the 27-year-old now faces a season that could turn out to be the biggest crossroads of his career. Sturridge could even make it through 16 minutes of last night’s friendly with Bayern Munich without injuring himself, although he did so in the process of scoring an outrageous lob.

Sturridge is undoubtedly a stellar talent on the pitch (when fit), but seems to be unable to conquer the one obstacle that has dogged him since he began in professional football – his own body.

Any which way you look at it, the Reds frontman has a huge campaign ahead of him and a lot of questions to answer.

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Sick notes don’t win you honours

We were planning to bring you a fancy graphic to details the numerous complaints that have kept Sturridge out of a Liverpool jersey since joining the club in January 2013. But, to be quite honest, our designers could fit them all in.

That’s because, in the five seasons he’s been at Anfield, Sturridge has missed an astonishing 86 games for the club via an injury list longer than Donald Trump’s sacking record.

It reads as follows: six hip/thigh knocks, three calf withdrawals, two ankle grumbles, a hamstring injury, illness and a knee issue.

When you consider the flipside of those stats you can see why Jurgen Klopp must be tearing his glorious hair out with the player. The striker has netted 46 times in just 89 outings in a red shirt; that’s better than a goal every two games.

Imagine having that kind of weapon in your arsenal, but only being able to use it sporadically. Is it really any wonder there were a multitude of rumours of him being offloaded to West Ham at the start of the summer.

It seemed clear that Klopp had lost trust in the player towards the end of last season, preferring instead to use Roberto Firmino playing slightly out of position in the number nine role rather than risk Sturridge. In his defence, how can you build around a man who could break down at any minute?

A Russian dangling carrot

The season is important to Sturridge for many reasons, but the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia may be the biggest one of all.

Given that he seemingly has the body of an arthritic pensioner, next summer might be his final crack on football’s biggest stage. But you can hardly call him an England regular.

That’s because despite him playing for three of the country’s big six (Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool) Sturridge only has 25 England caps and eight goals since his debut in 2011. In that time Harry Kane has scored as many goals in just two years.

However, with Wayne Rooney’s obvious decline there’s a battle royal going on for slots either side of Kane in the 3-4-3 system Southgate has adopted since taking over the national set-up. With a full-ish season under his belt that’s an argument Sturridge could get himself right in the middle of.

The most appearances he’s managed in a Premier League for Liverpool is 29, in the 2013/14 campaign, and he ended that year with 21 goals to his name.

A similar return this season should not only have him on the plane to Moscow, but maybe get him right into the starting XI for the Three Lions.

When all’s said and done, come this time next year Daniel Sturridge could be well on the road to legendary status for both club and country, or he might be trying to do his stuff on a wet Tuesday night in Stoke.

Only Sturridge’s mind – and more importantly his body – will decide which path he goes down.

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