Throughout the past 18 months or so, the persistent chatter from Liverpool fans has been along the lines of ‘We’ll be alright when Sturridge gets fit again’.
They hold the thought like a security blanket, as if it can entirely cover up their side’s not-inconsiderable problems.
Even though Sturridge has admittedly been a key player when fit for the Reds, and scored more than his fair share of goals, I believe this kind of thinking is a mistake which neither Brendan Rodgers nor the Anfield faithful should indulge in.
There are two problems as I see it; Daniel Sturridge will always pick up injuries unfortunately, and even when he is fit I am not convinced he can provide answers to all the questions surrounding Liverpool right now.
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As much as it’s a terrible shame to have to say it about a player that can be deadly in front of goal, provides a fast, dynamic outlet for his team and works as hard as any forward in the Premiership, Sturridge has shown already multiple times over his short career that he does pick up an awful lot of injuries.
What’s more, these knocks do not tend to be the sort of niggle that are dealt with in two or three weeks; they tend to rumble on, sometimes with extra complications.
Since August 2013, Liverpool have played 82 Premier League matches. Sturridge has appeared – not started, just appeared – in 42 of them.
Over a period of more than two years, he has missed almost as many games as he has taken part in. All these injuries will inevitably be taking their toll, sad as that is to say. Neither Sturridge’s mind or his body will be the same as before all those arduous, miserable recovery processes, hours spent in the gym on his own, days apart from the main group with only a physio for company.
What’s more, Liverpool need to start thinking about Sturridge not as a guaranteed starter, but as someone who can come in and make an impact on games when he is fit. He should not be automatically in the team, as for reasons of stability and consistency that role should be taken by someone who is, more often than not, fit and available.
I believe Danny Ings could take this role. While the perceived wisdom is that Ings is not on the same level as Sturridge, the former (if he stays clear of injuries of course), has the potential to strike up a fearsome partnership with Christian Benteke. Or, if Rodgers decides to play just the one up front, he has the option to play the big Belgian on his own, with Sturridge used as surely one of the best game changing substitutes in the business.
This could also prevent further risk of injuries for Sturridge, thus easing him back slowly into first team action.
With Brendan Rodgers and his backroom staff having already publicly stated several times that Daniel Sturridge needs taking care of with regards to his game time, and needs a slow introduction back to the first team, I believe that a spell as a substitute while Danny Ings and Christian Benteke attempt to form a partnership would be no bad thing.
The idea that he will instantly come back and solve the multitude of problems that Liverpool have is pure fiction, but if handled correctly he could still have a decisive impact on this season – even if that does have to be from the substitutes bench.