Sturridge made his first appearance for Liverpool since December in Tuesday night’s 2-1 FA Cup fourth-round replay defeat to West Ham United, coming on as a second-half substitute to make an impressive contribution.
Though he failed to find the back of the net at the Boleyn Ground, the England striker offered pace, dynamism and class as part of Jurgen Klopp‘s forward line.
The 26-year-old’s return marks the end of a long layoff, with Sturridge having suffered a number of minor setbacks throughout his recovery.
This brought calls for Sturridge to be sold, but speaking to Sport360, ex-Liverpool No. 9 Robbie Fowler says this would be mistake.
“I understand where fans are coming from when they say we may be better off getting him off the wage bill but Liverpool is all about trying to get a real decent squad and competition for places so we need to keep him,” Fowler says.
“It’s not ideal because he’s not [been] playing but I’ve been in the same situation before when I’ve been injured lots of times and I know how he feels, it’s a nightmare.”
Dogged with injuries of his own throughout his long and illustrious top-flight career, Fowler is well aware of the mental challenges facing Sturridge on his way to recovery.
But while Fowler’s former strike partner Michael Owen has called for more information on Sturridge’s injuries, he believes the No. 15 simply needs support now in order to thrive.
“I don’t think he wants to be injured, he wants to play and certainly I wouldn’t get rid of him, I don’t think Liverpool can afford to,” he continued.
“I think it’s important we have someone else there to take the goalscoring burden off him and at the moment there isn’t.”
It can be argued that Liverpool’s best hope alongside Sturridge is Roberto Firmino.
Firmino has developed into a hugely effective striker in the absence of Sturridge, scoring six goals and assisting on a further five in 10 appearances as Liverpool’s No. 9.
The prospect of Sturridge and Firmino operating in a fluid forward line is no doubt an attractive one to Klopp.
With Firmino hitting form as Sturridge makes his return, the Brazilian is well placed to lighten the load on the Liverpool’s beleaguered striker.
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