Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has taken the next step towards his return to action after five months on the sidelines, rejoining full training with his teammates today. It's unlikely he would feature against Manchester United on Saturday, but that he might be ready to come off the bench as a late substitute has not been ruled out.
That puts Sturridge in a group of injury question marks for Brendan Rodgers along with Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana, both of whom remain fitness doubts for Saturday's clash. However, for what it's worth and for those trying their best to read tea leaves, both Henderson and Lallana were kept out of training today while Sturridge was involved.
Either the star striker, who underwent hip surgery in May following a year hampered by injuries, is far likelier to feature than most would have thought only a day ago or he's still unlikely to play on Saturday and Henderson and Lallana are themselves almost certain not to. No matter what happens on Saturday, though, all three are at least close to returning.
The advantage for Henderson and Lallana, at least, is that they've played football recently. Both were involved in pre-season and were match fit a month ago. Sturridge hasn't been match fit in about 18 months, as following an injury while on England duty at the end of the 2013-14 season he's found himself constantly beset by one injury after another.
Even if he does return, then, expectations will have to be checked. He certainly won't be starting on Saturday—or likely for a couple of weeks—and it will be a minor miracle if he's sharp enough to make much of a positive impact against top level opposition. That means that the prudent course might in fact be keeping him out of the eleven on Saturday.
Throwing him on late against United, perhaps with Liverpool desperately needing a goal, hardly seems likely to do player, team, or manager any favours, and a bench spot for either—or both—of Danny Ings or Divock Origi would give Rodgers a match fit striker option.