Having spent most of the past two seasons on the sidelines injured, Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge might be expected to take some time getting back up to speed. According to club and national team teammate James Milner, though, that hasn’t been the case.
"When you have been out for such a long time, the one thing you watch is how long it takes someone to get up to speed," said Milner. "It could take weeks or months, but for him it seems to take a warm up and then he is out there and he is chopping left and right. His touch is there; his ability in front of goal.
"For me there’s no change at all. He's a little older and the experiences he has gone through with the injuries have maybe made him mentally stronger and hungrier because, when you are frustrated and missing games, you want to get back out there. When you get back, you want to do everything to stay there."
Liverpool fans have noticed the same thing. No matter how long Sturridge has been out, he always looks dangerous in front of goal from the moment he steps back out on the pitch. Perhaps not fully match fit, but always dangerous; always better than most other strikers will be even at their very best.
The problem has always been that sooner rather than later, Sturridge always seems to find himself injured and on the sidelines yet again. And so, once again, the question isn’t whether Sturridge can make an impact for club and country when he’s fit. It’s whether, once he’s out on the pitch again, he can stay fit.
After managing to stay that way for a little while with Liverpool, he’ll get another chance to prove it with England today, though after being out of contention for the past two seasons, he now finds himself behind both Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy in England’s pecking order.
"We’re just pleased to have another quality player available," said Roy Hodgson when asked what Sutrridge’s role was likely to be for England heading into the Euros. "He’s knocking on the door, trying to make it clear he should be the first name on the teamsheet. All I can do is give him the opportunity."