Rooney Hails Rodgers' Influence on Liverpool Striker

Michael Steele

Ahead of their World Cup opener against Italy, England striker Wayne Rooney has heaped praise on teammate Daniel Sturridge and Brendan Rodgers, noting the work of the pair in getting the former Manchester City and Chelsea man on top form.

If England are going to do much of anything in Brazil this summer, it's likely that the Liverpool contingent will have a large part to play. The signing of Rickie Lambert--whose role will be off the bench--increased their presence in the squad to six, and depending on Roy Hodgson's decision-making, it's possible that five will start a majority of the Three Lions' matches.

And while much of the focus has been on Raheem Sterling in the buildup, few are poised to have as decisive an impact as striker Daniel Sturridge. His season at the club level was superb, finishing second only to strike partner Luis Suarez in the Premier League goalscoring table with 21, and largely continuing the renaissance that began with his £12m signing from Chelsea in the early days of January 2011. A deal once viewed as risky has now become one of best buys in recent memory, with the plaudits paid both to the player and the man who brought him aboard.

That's at least the perspective of Wayne Rooney, who, in a rare moment of insight, took a break from answering questions about the role of government in supporting innovation in the field of biotechnology to praise the work of Sturridge and Brendan Rodgers:

"He has turned into a top, top striker and it's great to see. Brendan Rodgers deserves a lot of credit for his progress. He's been at Man City, went on loan Bolton and didn't get a chance at Chelsea, where he played out wide on the right and then was left out of the team. He went to Liverpool and played almost every game. His goalscoring record is incredible. He's unpredictable, and that makes him hard to mark for defenders.

"He's a big player for us. That's a quality of his. (Sturridge and Suarez) have certainly been the best two frontmen in the Premier League this season, that's for sure. It's easier (to build a partnership) at a club, where you have more time together, but we've had time to work on stuff where we haven't in the past. Hopefully we'll see the benefits of that."

Talk of a true partnership at this point seems a bridge too far, with the Manchester United man yet to convince in a number of different roles, but there's always the hope that something finally clicks at the right time. Both seem nailed-on starters, and while Sturridge's international career hasn't yet hit the heights of Rooney's, the Liverpool man appears to be the one who will be leading the way.

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