With Liverpool players dropping like flies due to injury, a spot of good news popped up via The Mirror yesterday: Daniel Sturridge has allegedly returned to training several weeks ahead of schedule.
Having not featured for Liverpool since his substitute appearance during the 3-3 draw against Everton at the end of November, Sturridge was projected to be out with an ankle injury until the end of January. Now he could offer Brendan Rodgers a sigh of relief after being cleared for fitness ahead of Liverpool's visit to Stoke City on Sunday. That the club play the always delightful Potters next might be cause for keeping Sturridge on the bench even if he is ready for a substitute appearance at the very least.
In spite of Iago Aspas' goal at the weekend in the FA Cup tie against Oldham, Liverpool's out and out striking options have been as thin as Aspas' arms during Sturridge's layoff. Luis Suarez's goal extravaganza during the month of December meant that Liverpool didn't suffer too much in Sturridge's absence, but the lack of another top class striking option aside from the Uruguayan made many nervous purely for reasons related to numbers and rotation.
Besides giving Brendan Rodgers the option to rest Luis Suarez should he want to — insert maniacal laughter here — Sturridge's return also marks the return of the competitive striking partnership formed between him and Suarez during the brief time their seasons overlapped this fall. Boring pundits have made the rivalry between the two goal-hungry players out to be one that is antagonistic, but both players seem to thrive on each other's successes, with each goal scored by one spurring on the other to follow suit.
As with any return from a long injury layoff, most will be hoping that Sturridge isn't rushed back too quickly despite his return to training. Whether he makes an appearance against Stoke on Sunday or saves his return for a later match, few will want to see Brendan Rodgers take any risks with a player who has already spent too much of his Liverpool career sidelined by injury.