Players have a tendency to increase their reputation when they are injured. We have seen it happen to a lot of big names, Jack Wilshere most notably, and Daniel Sturridge seems to have become an even better player the longer he is injured.
This fallacy is as interesting as it is bizarre and, not to undermine his brilliant form previously, Sturridge has never really shown world-class quality for a long period of time because of inconsistency and injury.
Injuries have become an excuse for some players and, weirdly, it seems that managers can fall back on having a lot of injuries as an excuse. It is sometimes bad luck, but when it is a specific player who is injured a lot of the time you begin to wonder why managers do not cut their losses more readily.
The faith can pay off, yet players are all too often unable to return to their previous form when they have had long periods of injury.
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Sturridge may be a pleasant change from this, but Liverpool’s frame of mind (particularly before signing Christian Benteke) seemed largely centred on the guarantee of a fit and fully firing Sturridge returning. This is risky and, most of all, is taking a huge gamble on Sturridge ever having the same turn of pace that made him such a wonderful foil for Luis Suarez.
Personally, I do not doubt that Sturridge has the talent to be a leading striker for Liverpool but a player with such a dire injury record rarely becomes regularly fit again. Michael Owen, for example, begun to have injuries and his career never recovered to the position it was in before, or Kieron Dyer, or Joe Cole, the list is worrying evidence to what may lie around the corner for the ex-Chelsea man.
Fortunately, the signing of Christian Benteke looks to be a very good one and their need to change style to suit his game will take time. It might just be best to sell Sturridge while his value is still high and bring in a more reliable backup to the powerful Belgian.
Then we are brought onto the issue of fitting in all these attacking talents, if Sturridge is regularly fit. Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino must be considered guaranteed starters and, unless we see Sturridge out wide, it means one of Sturridge or Benteke will be playing the lone striker role. The brilliance of the two Brazilians should make goal scoring a little easier for the main striker, but Sturridge’s role in the current side is certainly under question.
The best option would seem to be a move out to playing on the wing, but, if I recall correctly, that was one of the biggest issues that caused the ex-Manchester City forward to want a move away from West London.
Liverpool now have a highly talented strike force and two of the most threatening strikers in the league, but Sturridge’s injury issues make his role at the club questionable. If he is to stay, Rodgers must find a means to fit both he and Benteke in the line-up on a regular basis.
However, if Sturridge is going to be injured to the same extent he has been in the last 12 months it would make little sense to do anything other than maximise the money they can bring in for him.