Stoke v Liverpool: Daniel Sturridge set to return from injury
Brendan Rodgers backs the England striker to make an immediate impact
Friday 10 January 2014
Striker Daniel Sturridge is set to return from a lengthy absence to add firepower Liverpool's bid for Champions League football.
A sprained ankle has sidelined the 24-year-old since he scored a last-minute equaliser in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on November 23.
But the timing of his return to fitness could not be better after a couple of stuttering performances against Hull and then League One Oldham in the FA Cup.
Rodgers believes the England international is ready to make an immediate impact just as he did when he arrived from Chelsea in a £12million deal a year ago.
And the fact he scored the winner against Sunday's opponents Stoke on the opening day of the season only adds to the feelings of a good omen.
"He has made a terrific impact since he came in here and we are working hard with him and his talent to allow that to flourish," said Rodgers.
"Over the last four to five weeks it has obviously been difficult with injuries but having these types of players back and just seeing him on the training field has been really good
"To have someone of that stature and quality back in your group gives you great firepower.
"Thankfully Daniel is one who, having missed almost all of pre-season (with another ankle injury suffered on international duty), came back in, trained for 10 days and started off the season outstandingly
"The make-up of his body is really good and he has looked after himself and looks at a good level fitness-wise.
"We don't need to rush him but we need to make sure he is ready to make an impact in the second half of the season."
In Sturridge's absence Luis Suarez took his own personal form up a notch by setting a Premier League record of 10 goals in December - the first time a player has hit double figures in one calendar month.
It was more than enough to earn him the Barclays player of the month award and Rodgers said it was more than deserved after a difficult summer for the Uruguay international when he tried to fashion a move away.
But having returned from suspension, Suarez responded by scoring 20 goals in just 15 Premier League appearances which resulted in a new and vastly-improved contract being signed a few weeks ago.
Rodgers has noticed a difference in the forward and does believe Suarez has altered his perception on some things - most significantly where the fortunes of the club lie.
"He is 27 later on this month and that and probably his own mindset, thinking he wants to be here, knowing he maybe had to change that little bit, is part of his growing process as a player and a person," the manager added.
"We adore his talent and his personality and his desire to be successful and for us as a football club to have a world-class striker on your books is obviously very important."
Despite having dropped from top spot on Christmas Day Rodgers believes they are on course with expectations this season.
"It was obviously our aim to be challenging where we are but we want to be better than that," he said.
"At this moment in time we are reasonably satisfied with where we are at.
"Our performance level has been, in the main, excellent and our confidence and belief is really high."
The return to fitness of Sturridge and Mamadou Sakho, who has recovered from a hamstring strain, has been tempered by the news Liverpool will be without Daniel Agger for the foreseeable future after he sustained an injury against Oldham last weekend.
"Daniel will probably be three to four weeks as he has unfortunately picked up a calf problem," confirmed Rodgers.
Latest in Sport
Have Liverpool found the next Luis Suarez? Reds give trial to Uruguayan wonderkid Juan Manuel Sanabria
UFC 190 Ronda Rousey vs Bethe Correia: What time does it start and where can I watch it, plus Mauricio Rua vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho
- 1 National Orgasm Day: Six reasons (plus one bogus one) why they're good for us
- 2 The 'world's most beautiful vagina' has been debunked by science
- 3 Whoopi Goldberg tells Cara Delevingne to suck it up: 'She's not famous. I'M famous'
- 4 John Green schools morning show hosts after awkward interview with Cara Delevingne
- 5 Doctor Who: Christopher Eccleston says why he left the BBC series after just one series
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband