Brendan Rodgers begs Liverpool fans to 'be realistic' about Daniel Sturridge's return

The England striker has not played since a 3-0 win at Tottenham in August

Ian Herbert
Friday 16 January 2015 00:20 GMT
Daniel Sturridge trains at Melwood yesterday as he continues his recovery from injury
Daniel Sturridge trains at Melwood yesterday as he continues his recovery from injury (Getty Images)

Brendan Rodgers has asked for Liverpool fans to be realistic about the contribution Daniel Sturridge can make for the club this season and said it was “very hard to forecast” when his much needed return to the team would come.

Sturridge has not played for Liverpool since the 3-0 win at Tottenham in August – a catastrophe for the side, who have also lost Luis Suarez.

Rodgers confirmed that the 26-year-old is back in training after spending the Christmas period working with the Boston Red Sox medical team in America to overcome his ninth thigh injury, but the manager said only “time will tell” when the striker will start for the team, with an appearance at Aston Villa this weekend out of the question and a return to the starting XI before next month seeming unlikely.

“People do have to be more realistic,” Rodgers said of Sturridge. “It will take him time. First he has to get fit, generally. Fortunately, his body allows him [to regain fitness.] But there’s match fitness, football fitness, so it will take a wee bit of time. Just having him on field to begin with will be critical to the team because I think his threat is obvious. It’s the only way we will get him back up to speed.

“It’s been our job over the last number of months to find that solution for him. We have called in experts from different parts of the world so we are hoping it will allow him to stay fit for longer and a more consistent period. Let’s hope that will be the case.”

Rodgers, who insisted that Mario Balotelli “isn’t going anywhere” this month, is also unwilling to contemplate a release for Lucas Leiva, despite Internazionale manager Roberto Mancini’s active interest and the player’s own desire to leave. Lucas has re-established himself in the Liverpool side, missing only one game since 26 November – and that was their only defeat in that period, at Old Trafford. But the 28-year-old Brazilian is understood to feel he is only back in Rodgers’ plans out of necessity. He fits the new, more muscular team structure but believes he will be dropped once the manager reverts to his natural tactical instincts.

Despite the Brazilian’s sense he is not Rodgers’ ideal midfield choice – partly because he made a mere four starts in the second half of last season – the Northern Irishman insisted the player would be staying to take his place in the new 3-4-3 system, which is showing signs of bearing fruit.

“Last year we were a team that was set up with a playmaker from behind,” Rodgers said. “We never played with a defensive midfielder, really, and we played with a playmaker. When you move system and change, not the style but the system, it of course requires different things. And when you need a defensive midfielder, [Lucas] has come in and done that.”

Liverpool have recalled Jordan Ibe from his loan at Derby County.

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