With a hip injury forcing Daniel Sturridge to sit out the past three matches and likely meaning he will be unavailable on Tuesday against Hull City, the striker’s season looks increasingly as though it may end as it began: with him on the injured list. All told, Sturridge has now missed 28 games and nearly 120 days due to thigh, hamstring, and hip injuries this season.
"It’s been a difficult year for Daniel, of course," Rodgers said of his 25-year-old striker’s fitness struggles over the past year. "He’s a good lad who obviously wants to play, wants to be working and helping the team, but it has just been one of those seasons for him where he has been very unfortunate and missed out. We’re just going to have to monitor that day by day and see where he’s at."
Sturridge has missed time before and never had a reputation as being the most robust of players, but he’s never had a season like this before. Last season, though, he did miss 18 games and more than 80 days with a pair of ankle injuries. The season before, hamstring and groin injuries kept him out for 50 days and 14 games. Before that he was largely injury-free, but a clear pattern has begun to emerge.
And sadly, that pattern is of a player who the club may not be able to count on to stay fit next season, either. The manager, though, remains convinced that on his day Sturridge is one of the best strikers in the country, and he and the club doctors are looking at ways to get him fit for—and then keep him fit—next season rather than rushing him back into the lineup over the next five games.
"When he’s been fit he’s been brilliant for the team," said Rodgers. "The key now is to see if we can get him back fit and consistently playing, and we’ll see if that’s going to be this season or in the pre-season. We’ll do what’s in his best interests. We have to protect Daniel and make sure he’s going to be here over the next number of years playing to the level we all know he’s capable of."
If Sturridge can return next season and be a major contributor it will be a massive boost to Liverpool, but with his injury history over the past three seasons that seems more a hopeful goal than something the club can plan around, and with no other strikers Rodgers rates in the squad summer acquisitions will be key if Liverpool are to avoid wasting another season.
Sturridge may be back fit next year. Hopefully he will be, as the club would be far better for it. Rodgers and Liverpool, though, simply cannot count on that happening.
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