Hodgson Breaks Sturridge Ahead of Derby

Scott Heavey

With Liverpool set to face Everton over the weekend, Brendan Rodgers today admitted the 90 minutes Daniel Sturridge played in a meaningless friendly against Germany make him a doubt for the derby.

Following on from news earlier in the day that Jose Enrique was likely to require surgery for an ongoing knee problem, things went from bad to worse for Liverpool on the injury front when Brendan Rodgers revealed at his pre-Everton press conference that striker Daniel Sturridge was a doubt for the weekend.

"He obviously went to England with an injury," said Rodgers. "He's been playing through dead leg for about three to four weeks. He hardly trained when he left, after the Fulham game. We'll assess him. He's back recovering with the other international players and we'll see how it is over the next few days."

Liverpool fans will be incensed that despite heading to the England camp with a clear injury and the friendly nature of the games over the recent international break, Sturridge was played the full 90 against Germany on Tuesday. If Roy Hodgson was already persona non grata at Anfield, he may now have to dodge rotten fruit the next time he shows up to scout players.

That England's match against Germany didn't matter, that Sturridge arrived injured, and that Hodgson had extra substitutes available to him all make the decision to play Sturridge on Tuesday one that borders on gross misconduct, with England's manager putting the good of his image in the press ahead of the physical well being of one of his players.

It's the sort of thing Liverpool fans came to expect from Hodgson in his short time at Anfield, as he showed himself time and again to be a man whose first priority would only ever be Roy Hodgson. Expectations were managed; excuses were made; scapegoats were blamed. In that context, playing an injured Sturridge in the hopes it would help to get a result that only mattered for his press clippings is hardly the shock it should be.

However, despite the disappointment over Sturridge's status, Rodgers did confirm Steven Gerrard and Kolo Toure would both be available on the weekend. In the case of Toure, anything more than a start on the bench seems unlikely given how well Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger played against Fulham, not to mention Mamadou Sakho's impressive performance for France.

"He is someone that manages his body really well," added Rodgers when asked if Gerrard would be ready to go on Saturday. "He knows he's got a superb medical team here to support that. He just manages himself really well. He knows his body. Over the last 18 months, you only need to look at his record since we came in—it has been very good."

Given the various injury and fitness issues Rodgers is faced with, many will expect a return to something of the 4-3-2-1 Liverpool started the season with, only instead of having Sturridge lead the line while Luis Suarez watches from the stands it will be the Uruguayan who will likely be deployed as a lone striker on the weekend.

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