Brendan Rodgers urges caution over Daniel Sturridge’s Liverpool return

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Brendan Rodgers has warned that there can’t be too much pressure put on Daniel Sturridge to help Liverpool’s season, ahead of the striker’s return to action this weekend after a lengthly lay-off.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 26, 2014: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and manager Brendan Rodgers as he is substituted against Sunderland during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sturridge looks almost certain to make his return from a five-month injury lay-off on Saturday, when Liverpool host West Ham, and a lot has changed since he last pulled on that famous red shirt.

During Sturridge's absence, the Reds have slipped five points behind Manchester United in the hunt for the final Champions League qualification spot.

Rodgers remains convinced Liverpool would be in the top four now had Sturridge not been sidelined for the majority of the season.

"There's no doubt (about that)," the Liverpool boss said.

But Rodgers is also aware Sturridge will not be able to single-handedly rescue Liverpool's season.

"We just have to be careful with him," Rodgers added.

"He has been out for a long time.

"We can't put him under so much pressure that he is going to be the saving grace as soon as he steps foot on the pitch."

Rodgers will wait until Friday before he decides whether to throw the striker into his starting XI for the game at Upton Park.

It is clear that Sturridge is desperate to play, though.

"I've been champing at the bit," Sturridge added.

"I'm ready now – it's been a long time coming, but I am happy with how everything has gone and I am looking forward to it.

"I won't hold back from anything."

It was during a sprint on one of the many pitches at St George's Park that Sturridge pulled up after feeling a twinge in his thigh.

The striker immediately withdrew from England's squad to face Switzerland and was ruled out for several weeks.

On the eve of his comeback, Sturridge suffered a calf problem and then, much to his dismay, he sustained another thigh injury just as he was about to come back.

The former Chelsea and Manchester City striker spent the Christmas period in Los Angeles to aid his recovery and found it hard watching his team slip further and further down the league.

"I'm not a very good watcher," he said.

"I don't like watching too much but I had to. I watched every single match when I was in the States – I was getting up early doors in the morning, so sometimes it'd be 4am depending on where I was and what time the game was.

"I'd get up early and it was important for me to see how we played, the formations and the style of the new players.

"But it was hugely important (to go out there) and I am thankful to the guys over there who helped me out." PA

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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