Liverpool hero John Aldridge believes that Daniel Sturridge should play from the start in this evening’s FA Cup fourth round replay at Bolton, and that his return from injury could be vital as the club have a decent chance of lifting the trophy.
The England international ended a five-month lay-off over the weekend with a goalscoring comeback for the Reds against West Ham, giving the club’s followers a glimpse of what they’ve been missing since late August.
Sturridge initially picked up a muscular issue while training with England before suffering two further blows on the eve of returns to first-team action.
In his absence Brendan Rodgers’ side have struggled, with the recent decision to put Raheem Sterling ‘up top’ having been the change they needed, with his pace offering more options in the final third than the likes of Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert had been presenting.
With Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs already out of the FA Cup after an eventful fifth round weekend, Liverpool are among the favourites to lift trophy if they can make it past the Trotters, and Aldridge believes that Sturridge must be fielded to ensure he gets fit, and the club progress to the next round – where they could face Crystal Palace:
“The derby is coming up this weekend, but before then there’s the small matter of an FA Cup trip to Bolton Wanderers for our fourth round replay.” He wrote in the Liverpool Echo.
“It is a massive game. For me, with all due respect to the clubs left in the competition, the Cup is there for the taking.
“I can’t believe Arsenal are 7/4 favourites to retain their trophy.
“What’s that all about? Manchester United are also shorter odds than we are, but neither of those two teams are great shakes this season.
“Look, trips to Bolton and, if we win that, Crystal Palace are not easy. We’ve been given some tough draws compared to some of the other bigger teams.
“I’d have Daniel Sturridge in from the start at Bolton tomorrow night. And I think Brendan Rodgers is on the same train of thought.
Having been out for such a long time, Sturridge needs games to build up his fitness and sharpness.
“He’s still a fair few games away from being at his best, and Brendan Rodgers won’t want to push him too much.
“But in his brief cameo, it was no coincidence his pace and movement really troubled the West Ham defence.”