Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge facing four months on sidelines and could miss start of season

Ankle problem could leave Liverpool short of strikers with Luis Suarez future still in doubt

Liverpool fear that their striker Daniel Sturridge could miss the start of the Premier League season with the ankle injury he sustained playing for England against the Republic of Ireland last Wednesday, leaving Brendan Rodgers badly short of attacking options.

While the Luis Suarez saga rumbles on and the Uruguayan striker makes clear his desire to leave the club in the summer, another pressing concern is the timescale of Sturridge's recovery. The 23-year-old went off in the 33rd minute of the game at Wembley after a tackle from Glenn Whelan and was pulled out of last night's international friendly against Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

The fear is that in the worst-case scenario he could take up to four months to recover, which would take Liverpool up to the end of September without a player who scored 11 goals in the last 16 games of the season in all competitions, including a hat-trick against Fulham in a 3-1 victory at Craven Cottage last month. It also means that the player would miss the pre-season fitness work, a concern given his history with injuries.

England's World Cup qualifying campaign recommences in early September with two matches – against Moldova at Wembley and away to Ukraine – and there is a strong possibility Sturridge could struggle to make those vital fixtures.

At Chelsea at the start of last season, Sturridge was plagued with a hamstring injury before his move to Liverpool in the January transfer widow. The former Manchester City forward then went on to score 11 league goals, making it his equal most prolific season in the Premier League alongside 2011-12 with Chelsea. Any problems for Liverpool will be mitigated by the availability of Spanish striker Iago Aspas, who they signed the from Celta Vigo last week. The 25-year-old cost around £7.5m.

The club have also been linked with Barcelona's David Villa – who has also been targeted by Tottenham Hotspur and scored Barcelona's opening goal in their 4-1 win over Malaga in their final La Liga fixture of the season on Saturday – and the Udinese striker Luis Muriel among many others as potential replacements for Suarez.

The striker has given three interviews expressing his desire to leave Liverpool. The first said he would find it hard to say no to Real Madrid and the other two how hard life in England has become after his most recent ban, the 10-game suspension from the Football Association for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic back in April.

"My reason for leaving is not the money," Suarez said in his most recent interview. "It's my family and image. I don't feel comfortable here any more."

Liverpool have reiterated their desire to keep the 26-year-old to his contract at Anfield.

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