Daniel Sturridge can fire Liverpool into the top four, says Reds legend Ray Houghton

But the title is already beyond  them this season

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The Independent Football

Liverpool legend Ray Houghton says Daniel Sturrridge’s return to full fitness can inspire the Reds to rejoin the Premier League's elite.

Brendan Rodgers’ team have struggled so far this season without the England striker, who has not played for Liverpool since 31 August. After injuring himself while on international duty, Sturridge then hurt himself again on his return to training last month.

Liverpool have just 14 points from 11 games this season and find themselves 11th in the table, while Mario Balotelli is still to score in the Premier League.

Liverpool have won just four of the 14 matches in all competitions that Sturridge has missed, but he is targeting a return against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on 23 November.

Houghton, who played 202 matches winning two League titles and two FA Cups during a five-year stay at Anfield, says Sturridge can be the catalyst for a return to form.

Ray Houghton won four major trophies in his five years at Anfield

“There will be many twists and turns before the end of the season, and Liverpool can be thankful that Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United all have their own problems, with only Chelsea showing any consistency," Houghton told Goal.com.

“The title might already be beyond Liverpool, but the objective is to be in the top four and progression in the Champions League, and the return of Sturridge will give them hope of achieving that.”

Houghton has also pointed to Liverpool’s defensive woes that has seen them keep just two clean sheets from 17 matches this season.

“There is a distinct lack of clean-sheets and that needs to be addressed," he added.

“[Dejan] Lovren cost a lot of money, but he is making too many mistakes and he’s not being helped by those around him.

“I wish Alberto Moreno would stop thinking he is a winger. His job is left-back, but too many times the former Sevilla player goes charging down the wing and is caught out of position.

“Liverpool need to get in touch with their old mantra of ‘back to basics’, with Moreno one of a number who are over-complicating their play.”