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Sturridge Not Yet "Fit as He Possibly Can" Be

After a terrific start to his Liverpool career, Daniel Sturridge's impact has faded, a trend his manager has attributed to a string of injuries and the need for patience for a player who's still just 23.

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Alex Livesey

With resignation more than celebration the order of the day when Daniel Sturridge arrived, there seemed to be little to indicate that he'd be the type of player to completely transform Liverpool's attack. Widely maligned as too selfish--by me, a lot--he didn't seem a player that'd adapt his game enough to fit into a system that demanded distribution and vision rather than the head down, dribble dribble dribble, shoot from wherever you are approach the striker had displayed for much of his time at Chelsea.

And so of course it would follow that he puts on a Liverpool shirt and seemingly abandons all of the attributes about which we had so much resignation in the first place--good vision, willingness to spread play, only the occasional selfishness that's actually somewhat necessary for someone playing up top. His link-up with Luis Suarez was almost immediate, and with Philippe Coutinho arriving, it looked to only be getting better.

Unfortunately the Brazilian's arrival has coincided with a lapse in fitness for the young English striker, who first picked up a knock against Manchester City and has struggled to recover since. We've known (or maybe just hoped) that it was a product of injury rather than an inability to adapt, and earlier today Brendan Rodgers confirmed that there's been extra care given to the player's fitness:

"At 23, he's still a young player. The good thing is that he wants to learn. I think it's just natural. He came into the club and made a real explosive start. Then he was hampered by a couple of injuries. We are trying to make sure that's completely right to allow him to be as fit as he possibly can. We believe he's going to be a great player for us, not only for now but for the future as well. He's working very hard to fit into the team and the structure."

It seems exactly the sort of treatment the situation demands; Sturridge is one of the more visibly headstrong members of the squad, and while it can't sit very well with him, being patient rather than jamming him in at all costs will hopefully glean more positive results in terms of both form and fitness. It's been clear that he's not at his best, and if managed minutes the rest of the way is needed to protect his longer-term fitness, then there's no question that Liverpool will have to do without.

After such a bright start, it'd have been hard to maintain the type of goal return and consistently excellent performances Daniel Sturridge produced, let alone to do so while injured. We might have to wait a little while longer to see him back at that level, but he's shown that it's worth waiting for.

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