Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, has refused to rule out Daniel Sturridge for Saturday’s match against West Bromwich Albion, despite the player being left out of Roy Hodgson’s England squad over injury concerns.
If Sturridge does play a part in the match at Anfield, even if he is merely named on the bench, it will leave the England manager looking more than a little red-faced.
Sturridge has not played since he picked up a thigh strain while training with England last month. He has missed six matches for Liverpool and was not named in Hodgson’s 23-man squad for the Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Estonia, with the England manager claiming “he is not fit enough”. But Rodgers has not confirmed the striker will play no part against West Brom.
“He’s not fit. That’s the bottom line. It would have been nice if he had been but he’s not,” Hodgson said. “How do you select a player that’s not fit? We will wait and see if he does play at the weekend. If he does, that will be a matter for some discussion. But let’s wait and see first.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers said he had discussed the matter at some length with Hodgson during a phone call this week. “We agreed that it was probably too soon for Daniel to meet up with England, irrespective of if he was involved this weekend or not,” Rodgers said. “He hasn’t trained with the squad at all since his injury with them. It was probably not the right time for him to go.” It means Hodgson’s squad contains only three strikers, Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Rickie Lambert.
Rodgers has previously expressed his dissatisfaction at Sturridge’s injury, sustained two days after the 1-0 win over Norway, and claimed the striker had not been given enough time to recover properly between matches.
However, Hodgson said that such rest periods were out of the question. “We we are now down to 79 days, including match-days, pre-match days and post-match days, [before the start of the 2016 European Championships],” he said. “If every time we give two days off pre-match, or two days off post-match, we will be down to 20 days’ training in the course of the next year and a half. For me that is unacceptable.”
Rodgers countered he had “told him [Hodgson] that every player is different. He has his work to do internationally but my concern is for the Liverpool players and what their needs are.”
Hodgson added it is not a case of a “club-country conflict”. “I’m perfectly happy with the situation. Rodgers seems to be happy with the situation. The one person who is unhappy is Daniel because he would have loved to have been with us, but he can’t because he injured.”
Hodgson, as he pointed out, has the authority to insist a player joins up with the England squad, and can also send his own medical staff to assess a player’s fitness, something “I have not had cause to do in my two and half years”.
The manager revealed he has asked Sturridge to be the “unofficial leader of the attacking unit”, but at the same time claimed, “I don’t have any worries about him missing this particular week.”
Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers have dropped back to the Under-21 squad, who face a European Championship play-off against Croatia. It means that Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne earns his first senior call up.
“We’ve been impressed by him for a long time,” Hodgson said. “We’ve lost Glenn Johnson, we’ve lost Kyle Walker. John Stones played there the other day, and we were looking for someone else who’d be a good candidate. Nathaniel was considered last time, and this time he was more than considered.”
He told Shaw and Chambers that “as far as I’m concerned they belong to the senior squad. Had there not been these two important matches for the Under-21s they’d have been in it. [But] if you break into the senior squad it doesn’t give you the automatic right to always be there.”
Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey, who won his one cap against San Marino in 2012, has also been recalled. “He was always in our thoughts last year, but last year we had Gerrard and Lampard, who are similar players. I think it’s a good moment now for him to come into this squad,” Hodgson added.Reuse content