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Should Liverpool risk Daniel Sturridge in Merseyside derby?

Brendan Rodgers will want his strongest team available for the game with Everton, but not at risk of jeopardising future fixtures.

The next couple of days may well indicate just how important Liverpool's crunch game with Everton is to Brendan Rodgers. The evidence is likely to rest on his willingness to involve a half fit Daniel Sturridge against the Toffees.

Since Sturridge was injured on England duty, Liverpool have endured two Premier League losses, and narrow victories in games billed as easy wins in both the Champions League and the League Cup.

It has left many hoping for the return of the Reds' most prominent attacker, with Rodgers seeming to leave Sturridge's inclusion as an option despite him only just returning from his thigh problem.

"We've got a number of injuries that we're just going to give every chance to," said Rodgers. "Obviously the game is 48 hours away.

"[Sturridge] is a player who is out on the field working. Daniel and a number of others we'll assess nearer the time. If he doesn't make it, then he won't be far off after that.

"We'll be very happy to have him back and we hope that can be this weekend. But we'll assess over the next couple of days.

"He certainly won't be match fit - he hasn't played for a few weeks."

The last thing that Liverpool need is a recurrence of the thigh injury that ruled the club's star striker out for several weeks. If he was to exacerbate the problem during what is sure to be a fierce and fast paced Merseyside derby, he could be out for even longer.

With Mario Balotelli taking his time to find his feet, it may well be worth Rodgers adopting a cautious approach to the former Chelsea forward's return to the Liverpool team, to ensure he doesn't suffer in the long run. However, a cautious approach is easier said than done as the derby approaches.

Unsurprisingly, Rodgers was quick to discuss of the positive impact the England striker had on the Liverpool side, with the 25-year-old having starred against Tottenham in his most recent game for the club.

"He's a great reference for our team at the top of the field," said the Reds boss. "His pace and movement and quality that we saw the last time he played for us, against Tottenham. He was exceptional.

"It would be great to have him back because he's a wonderful player for us."

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