Daniel Sturridge is looking to rebuild his career with Australian side Perth Glory, but the former Liverpool striker was unable to make his away debut for a strange reason.
Last month, Sturridge was announced as a new signing for A-League hopefuls Perth Glory, having been without a club for 18 months after his exit from Trabzonspor in 2019.
It is seen as one of the most high-profile arrivals in the history of the English top flight, but it is evident that the striker will take time to recapture his best form in Australia.
Almost two-and-a-half years after picking up a Champions League winner’s medal with Liverpool, Sturridge was unable to participate in his first away trip with the Glory.
He had joined the squad for the four-hour flight to Melbourne, with a view to taking part against Western United, having already made his debut in the final five minutes of a 1-1 draw with Adelaide United last week.
However, when the teamsheets were revealed, Perth owner Tony Sage was surprised to see Sturridge’s name omitted from Richard Garcia’s squad.
As Sage spoke to SEN after the 1-0 defeat, he explained that the 32-year-old had reluctantly pulled out due to cramps suffered from the flight, saying “he’s just not used to it.”
“Look, a lot of consultation goes ahead, and when I saw the teamsheet I made the call to sound out why [Sturridge was left off],” he said.
Sage added: “He pulled up on the plane a little bit crampy, when they did their walk and that he didn’t feel comfortable.
“So, he went up to Richie and said, ‘look, I might not be ready this week’.”
It is far from a disaster given Sturridge is not long out of a 14-day quarantine and has not played a full 90 minutes of competitive football since Liverpool’s 3-2 win at Newcastle in April 2019.
But this situation does highlight the added strain on players who opt for lucrative moves to the A-League and MLS in the twilight of their careers.
For example, Steven Gerrard spoke of his surprise at the toll of travel and the changes in climate while playing for LA Galaxy, with life in the MLS requiring regular long-haul trips across America.
Perth Glory are hopeful Sturridge can play “10 to 15 minutes” in their next away game, for which will they stay in Melbourne to play Melbourne Victory, before building up his fitness further in the follow-up at Melbourne City.
“I think you’ll see him start by the time he gets back here [to Perth],” Sage added.