Daniel Sturridge looks to have finally shaken off the injury problems that have plagued much of his career, at the perfect time for England with just over a month to go before the Euros.
The Liverpool striker has managed to go two months without adding to the injury woes have kept him sidelined for much of Liverpool’s campaign, and boy have the Merseysiders missed him this season.
With Benteke misfiring, the burden of scoring goals has fallen most heavily on Philllipe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, with Divock Origi coming on leaps and bounds since the arrival of Klopp but still lacking the killer instinct that Sturridge is famed for.
The absence of Sturridge has also seen the departure of Brendan Rodgers, who undoubtedly would have seen the England’s man problems as a contributory factor to why his Liverpool sides have underperformed this season.
Under Jurgen Klopp, Sturridge has been rumoured to have a fractured relationship, one that led to many believing the former Chelsea man was going to be shown the door this summer, should he not have started against Villareal in Liverpool’s 3-0 win during the week.
He did start, and also got on the scoresheet.
With Sturridge now quickly returning to 100% match sharpness, there can be doubt that England’s finest poacher, when injury free, must start for England.
The England man, who has made 17 appearances for his country, netting 5 goals, has said he has put in the hours to try to put his injury woes behind him.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said “‘I actually haven’t had a day off. When the other boys have had days off, I have been in. It has just been extra stuff, whether I’ve been training or doing recovery work, I’ve been doing it.”
Sturridge has had to contend with hamstring, knee, hip, thigh and foot problems for the past year, and has spent nearly half of his Liverpool career in the treatment room.
But now he believes the worst is behind him, and his new manager, Jurgen Klopp, has backed him for success at the Euros.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference yesterday, the former Dortmund boss said “Together, with Daniel involved, we have done everything we could to make him as fit as possible and now he is at the highest level.
“That’s really perfect news I think for England and the European championship. We have tried to do our best with and around him. He does the same in the sessions and on the pitch so there is nothing negative with resting or any side you want to think about.”
Sturridge will have to compete with the likes of Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane for a starting position in France next month. The Spurs man is the Premier League’s top scorer, with 25 goals, whilst Vardy is not far behind him after a ground-breaking season for the 29 year old, with 22 goals to his name.
There can be no denying the form of Vardy merits an England place, but with Sturridge fit and firing, he really should be the man to lead England’s front line, potentially alongside Harry Kane.
Sturridge’s international experience will serve England well, and with five goals in his last seven games despite only starting four of those games, is testament to how much of a goal threat he is, and that he should be put in the same bracket as the world’s finest finishers. When fit, of course.
Other contenders for starting places in France include Arsenal duo Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott, whilst Raheem Sterling will also be hoping to be a part of what is a promising England front line.
Both Welbeck and Walcott have had their own injury problems, and whilst Hodgson is known to favour Danny Welbeck, who has a terrific England strike record, Theo Walcott is expected to, and probably should, miss out on the trip to France.
Sterling has had a lukewarm campaign, but remains one of England’s finest prospects.
This is all without mentioning Wayne Rooney, who was England’s top scorer in qualifying and is also his country’s all-time top scorer, surpassing greats including Gary Lineker and Sir Bobby Charlton earlier this year.
However, it is widely expected that Rooney will drop into midfield in the summer, allowing England to use more their striking arsenal. And Daniel Sturridge should be one the first to benefit from such a tactical move.
Whether he can stay injury free for the next month remains to be seen. Nevertheless, with the omens looking good for both Liverpool and England, there can be no doubt that Sturridge should be one of the first names on the team sheet for the Three Lions.