It’s December. It's Tuesday—at least for a few more hours. Daniel Sturridge is injured again. It’s likely that none of these things are especially surprising to you. At least unless you’re in Australia, in which case that’s it’s still Tuesday in England may come as a surprise thanks to tricksy timezones and that you live in the future.
The December and the Daniel Sturridge being injured again parts, though? Those won’t be a surprise to anyone, and to that end, reports emerged today that the injury-prone striker tweaked his hamstring on Sunday when he came on late against Newcastle. If true, he appears set to miss at least the next few weeks with a likely January return.
Some will be holding out hope that it turns out not to be true, but a string of early Twitter rumours suggesting Sturridge had suffered yet another setback have been followed by reports from the likes of the Express' Paul Joyce that treat the injury as, if not certain, then at least likely. Though it's always possible people are simply expecting the worst.
If they are, that's because since arriving at Liverpool in January of 2013, Sturridge has made 72 appearances across all competitions for the club while missing 67 games with groin, ankle, thigh, hamstring, hip, and knee injuries. If he is out for the remainder of 2015, he would miss five games and go into 2016 having been injured for 72 Liverpool matches.
There is little doubt that when fit, Sturridge is one of the top strikers in the league. There is an argument to be made that, when fit, since the title challenging 2013-14 season, he has been better even than the similarly injury-prone Sergio Aguero and the league’s best striker. Again, though, the when fit caveat is increasingly hard to look past.
For all Sturridge’s talent, he has become a player the club simply cannot count on to be fit. At best, a fit Sturridge is a bonus, but he isn’t a player Liverpool can think of as their first or even second choice striker, because the sad reality is they simply cannot count on him being available. Planning as though he will ever be able to stay fit isn’t viable.
And given he is on a reported £150k per week—nearly £8M per season—at some point, Liverpool will have no choice but to explore options for moving on from Sturridge. That point may not be today or in January, but it’s coming, and it’s coming soon if Sturridge cannot find a way to stay fit more than half the time.