Daniel Sturridge, who scored 21 Premier League goals last season, has missed most of the current campaign due to injury. His absence has contributed to an abrupt drop-off in goal production for the Reds, who are now scoring a mere 1.38 goals per game compared to the 2.66 that they averaged last year.
While fans are eager to see Sturridge return to action, manager Brendan Rodgers says that patience is key when it comes to his rehabilitation process. "People have to be more realistic, it will take him time," Rodgers said. "It's an individual thing and he's been out so long there's no point putting a timeline on it when we don't know exactly what that is. He's out on the field, he's working."
"He was due to come back here towards the final stages of that rehabilitation and that's where he is at. Hopefully over the next few weeks he will improve on that," Rodgers continued.
"First he has to get fit generally, and fortunately he is a naturally fit player as he proved last season when he came back without much of a pre-season and did very well. But then there is match fitness, football fitness, and that will take a wee bit of time."
It's perhaps telling that Liverpool have recalled forward Jordon Ibe from his loan spell at Derby County and are rumored to be in talks with Lille about a potential recall for Divock Origi. Simply put, there's no way to know when Sturridge will be back, and so Liverpool are expanding their attacking options to lessen the pressure to rush his return.
After two previous injury setbacks this season for Sturridge, Rodgers is displaying extra caution with his star man. His concern is understandable given Sturridge's injury history and long-term importance to the team, as the additional time that he misses now will be far easier to digest than another extended stint rehabbing in Los Angeles.