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Options for Liverpool in Daniel Sturridge’s absence

Recent reports suggest that Daniel Sturridge is set to be out of action for a month with a hip injury – his fourteenth injury in just over two years at Anfield. Josh Sexton weighs up Liverpool’s options to replace the stricken striker.

Raheem Sterling

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 22, 2015: Liverpool's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the second goal against Southampton during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Perhaps Liverpool fan’s favourite to replace Sturridge in the lone striker role, the 20 year old has played up top several times during the season, however his recent form may be a cause for concern for Brendan Rodgers.

With stalling contract negotiations Sterling has appeared to struggle to focus on footballing matters in recent times, however with the Reds now sitting five points adrift of the top four, the England international will need to improve his domestic form in order to help Liverpool in their top four charge.

Sterling’s pace and trickery are a huge asset for Liverpool when he is on his game and can be key in replacing the attributes lost with Sturridge on the sidelines, and if he improves his end product he can make a huge contribution to the top four challenge.

Mario Balotelli

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, February 19, 2015: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli celebrates scoring the first goal against Besiktas JK from the penalty spot during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ever the controversial choice, the Italian striker has recently taken to social media to have a pop at his critics, but the best way to prove his critics wrong would be to help fire Liverpool into the top four.

There is no doubt that Balotelli has the ability to succeed but his attitude is often called into question, but if he channels it correctly, his determination and ambition can be very important for the Redmen.

With just one Premier League goal to his name “Super Mario” will be looking to improve his record and he may get the chance to with Sturridge’s latest setback, if he does get the chance then it is down to him to show the Anfield faithful that he can be an important player going forward.

Rickie Lambert

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 17, 2015: Liverpool's Rickie Lambert celebrates scoring the second goal against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Villa Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The boyhood Liverpool fan has had very little chance to stake his claim to be a starter for Liverpool, although he most likely knew that he would only play a bit part role at the club.

The biggest problem for Lambert seems to be that he doesn’t fit the style of striker that Rodgers requires with the way the team is set up. The Reds need somebody who can get in behind the defence and penetrate; however Lambert’s lack of pace limits his ability to do this.

Should he be given the chance, the four million pound signing from Southampton will be more than eager to show Liverpool fans that he does belong at Anfield, and show them why he was signed in the first place.

Fabio Borini

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 17, 2015: Liverpool's Fabio Borini scores the first goal against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Villa Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The forgotten man in terms of Liverpool’s attacking options, the Italian had the chance to leave the Reds in the summer, however he decided to stay and fight for his place, a decision which has seen him rarely even make the bench for much of this season.

Borini has shown in the little time that he has featured that he is willing to put in the effort, but it is more a question of his quality as a footballer and his finishing that will concern Rodgers and the fans.

It is unlikely that the Italian will be drafted in as a Sturridge replacement, but if he does then fans can expect to see a relentless effort from the former Swansea man and if he can show a scoring touch, he may just be able to rescue his Liverpool career.

Two up top?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 16, 2014: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini looks dejected as PFC Ludogorets Razgrad score a late equalising goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The second half of the past two games has seen Rodgers’ revert to the diamond formation that featured for much of last season, and has served the Reds well in the past.

If Rodgers does decide to go back to the diamond this would mean Liverpool would likely return to two strikers, who will fill them two spots is the main question.

Balotelli and Sterling would be the most likely pairing, although the Liverpool manager has shown a tendency to experiment with his options, meaning we could perhaps see Coutinho or Lallana playing in a role just off the striker, rather than having two out and out strikers.

Whatever happens the Reds need to hope they can profit quickly with a crucial game against Arsenal up next in their push for a Champions League spot, and more important games still to come.

Who do you want to see start at striker with Sturridge out? Let us know in the comments below.

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