John Aldridge discusses selection issues for Liverpool against Villarreal; says Sturridge must start

Anfield Night

Sturridge was omitted from the starting line-up for the first leg in Spain.

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge has said that Daniel Sturridge simply must start the second leg of the Reds' Europa League semi-final against Villarreal.

Sturridge was left out of the side for the first leg which saw Jurgen Klopp's side succumb to a late Adrian Lopez strike to give the Spaniard's a slender first-leg lead.

The forward did play 90 minutes in the weekend's 3-1 defeat to Swansea City, and he has been used sparingly by Klopp of late, with Divock Origi preferred ahead of him before he suffered an ankle injury in the Merseyside derby.

But given Liverpool are now chasing the game a little, it seems a must that Sturridge should start against Villarreal.

Aldridge wrote in his Liverpool Echo column: "We need to score, we need to be on the front foot, and so our best striker has to be on the pitch.

"I was a bit surprised he wasn’t used over in Spain, but I don’t expect a repeat at Anfield. He’ll be in, I’m sure, and I would back him to do the business."

There are other factors to consider, though. Roberto Firmino led the line for the Reds at El Madrigal - with one effort hitting the post in the second half - and Aldridge feels that the main question mark will be between Firmino and Adam Lallana.

He added: "The real decision, for me, is whether Adam Lallana or Roberto Firmino starts. The back four and goalkeeper is a given, and Lucas and Joe Allen must start in midfield.

"James Milner and Philippe Coutinho have to start, so the only question is which one of the other two gets the last shirt. Firmino didn’t do a lot in Villarreal, but he is a threat and gets goals."

One thing that will not be a surprise is if Milner partners Lucas in the middle of the park, and there is a trio of Firmino, Lallana and Philippe Coutinho supporting Sturridge up front - with Allen used as an option from the bench. 

Another factor to consider is that midfielder Emre Can has made an earlier than expected return to full training and could be in contention for Thursday evening's game, the Echo reports

It is a massive game for Liverpool, with their season effectively riding on trying to make their first European final since 2007.

Klopp has vowed for his side to be better than the past two games and it seems that a strong start could be crucial.

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