Aldridge backs Liverpool to cope without Sturridge, and Balotelli to shine

The amount of options available gives Aldridge confidence the side can cope this term even with an injury to their main forward.

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge has backed his old side to cope if Daniel Sturridge has to spend some time on the sidelines.

The Reds are sweating on the fitness of their first choice striker after he picked up a thigh injury on international duty with England, though the forward has yet to be ruled out of the weekend's game against Aston Villa.

But after a summer of strengthening the squad and seeing nine players come into the club in the summer transfer window, including Mario Balotelli, the club has the playing resources to come. 

He wrote in his Liverpool Echo column: "I think Liverpool have the squad to cope in his absence.

"Now, if Sturridge is out, then Mario Balotelli can take over the No.9 role. He might even relish the challenge.

"And if he needs support, then there is a queue of players who can step up to the plate.

"There’s Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic - you can even throw Fabio Borini in there, now we know for certain that he is staying at Anfield.

"The options are there. Liverpool’s next three fixtures are all, on paper at least, winnable games. They’d miss Sturridge, because he is a fantastic centre forward, but it won’t be the end of the world, like it once was when our striker picked up an injury on international duty."

The Reds face Aston Villa this weekend who have left Anfield with at least a point on each of their last three visits, as has Paul Lambert in the Premier League. They're also heavily fancied to win their opening Champions League game against Ludogorets - whilst the Reds have won on their last two visits to West Ham United.

Of course Liverpool would rather have Sturridge available, but in the two league games the side may be forced to pack the midfield. Villa exploited Liverpool with pace and counter-attacking on their most recent visits to Anfield, whilst a trip to West Ham is always bound to be a battle against a team fired up by Sam Allardyce.

There could be three central midfielders, with two others players operating wide with Balotelli playing through the middle if Brendan Rodgers wanted Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini to remain options from the bench.

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