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Rodgers Airs Sturridge Disappointment

Following Saturday's derby draw, Brendan Rodgers took the surprising step of revealing his disappointment in Daniel Sturridge, whose England exertions meant not being fit enough to start the match.

Alex Livesey

After he gave England ninety minutes of exertion in a friendly against Germany that didn't matter, Brendan Rodgers had raised doubts heading into Saturday's derby match over whether Daniel Sturridge would be fit enough to start. Those doubts, it turned out, were on the mark, even if Sturridge had enough in him to contribute a vital late equaliser off the bench.

Despite the late goal and the point it earned Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers ended the day more interested in lamenting Sturridge's absence for the start than celebrating his impact at the end. And while it's clear Rodgers doesn't appreciate England choosing to play a less than fit Sturridge, he believes the striker shares the blame for pushing to take part in a meaningless match when he needed rest.

"I looked at him in training on Friday and he was not right," said Rodgers as he tried to sort through the remains of a match that was as stressful for supporters on both sides as it was exciting, with six goals, hard tackles, and wild momentum swings keeping it interesting until the final whistle. "Whose responsibility is that? It is the Football Association and the player."

Taking a poke at the English FA for playing Sturridge in a match that didn't matter for anything beyond pride and perception might have been expected given Liverpool's failure to take all three points and Sturridge not having the fitness to start. Singling out the player as partially responsible for Liverpool's more limited striker options heading into the derby, though, comes as a surprise if only because it's the kind of thing that so rarely happens.

"It is very simple for me," continued Rodgers as he sought to explain the thinking behind his decision to leave Sturridge out of the starting eleven. "With any player, you have to put yourself on the training field. If you do that, you will be in with a chance of playing. Jon Flanagan was immense. He will be in a derby that is shown on Sky Golden in 30 years' time because of his desire and will to put himself out there every day.

"If you don't do that, there is a consequence—you don't play. If you want to be a champion, if you want to win things, you have to be ready. For this game I just felt Daniel wasn't ready. I could see it in him. I have seen it before. There is a trend: the games he has disappointed in have come when he hasn't trained. That was the call here."

Sturridge was too tired from his England exertions to look convincing in training; in the past when he hasn't convinced in training he hasn't convinced on game day; so Rodgers left him on the bench to start the match. None of that will be especially revelatory to Liverpool fans, though that he was bothered enough by the situation to speak on it publicly—and, moreover, to point to Sturridge's culpability in it—will likely surprise many.

After a year that has seen nothing but positive words and good will exchanged between Rodgers and Sturridge following his January arrival from Chelsea, it also leaves a few nagging questions about what happens now that the manager has spoken in a rather less than complimentary fashion about his player in the press.

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