A bright start to Daniel Sturridge's 2013-2014 league season was dimmed temporarily as he was ruled out of the last round of World Cup qualifiers for England; we've written plenty about the back and forth that's occurred since his injury in May, and it became no secret that the star man for Liverpool was suddenly a hot commodity at the international level. Lack of opportunities and problems with fitness had conspired against him previously, but now, with two important home matches set for the coming week, it seems that Sturridge's time has arrived.
That's the expectation from his club and international captain, at least, as Steven Gerrard has openly praised the impact of the striker for his work at Liverpool while underlining the importance of his hitting the ground running for England, albeit with a different partner in attack:
"If that front partnership works that could be key. Wayne and Danny are unselfish, both capable of setting each other up and scoring the goals themselves. That's what gives me the belief it can work. That's the reason it's been working with Luis Suarez and Sturridge. They're helping each other and I think Wayne and Daniel can do similar things.
"You've got to understand he was playing as a wide forward at Chelsea. He scored quite a few goals from there but the team was built around Didier Drogba - and understandably so. But ever since Daniel's come to Liverpool, the manager has played him as the nine, as the main man, and as a result he's flourished. I'm sure if he's given that nine role for England he can produce for England as well. I don't think Daniel has any doubts in his own ability. If he's fit and available he will be confident he can deliver at this level."
Few will doubt that Sturridge has the talent to make an impact on the international stage, especially alongside an in-form Wayne Rooney. He's a different type of partner than Luis Suarez, but should be able to combine well with a player who's shown that he's capable of combination play as well as doing it on his own. Their partnership is in its infancy, leaving Roy Hodgson to hope that they're able to strike the sort of immediate connection that Sturridge has found in Suarez.
As always, wishing players the best on international duty comes through gritted teeth, with concerns about fitness and healthy returns outweighing any sort of genuine good tidings to extend. In the case of Daniel Sturridge, though, it's felt a long time coming, and it's hard to feel anything other than hopeful that he's able to experience success for England. And that he doesn't get hurt in the process.