Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, a man once as famous for his own injuries as his goals, believes Liverpool’s attempts to keep quiet on Daniel Sturridge’s injury struggles has backfired, that instead of protecting the player it has led to a situation where speculation about his future is inevitable.
"I wish we knew a bit more," Owen said on BT Sport this week. "We get texts saying Sturridge has done this of that, but it’s all people guessing. It’s hard to have a view until we find out what’s wrong, and the club have not really said. Until we know exactly what problems he has had or has got, it’s fuelling a lot of rumours."
Sturridge finally returned to action on Tuesday in the FA Cup against West Ham, coming on in the second half and playing around an hour of football after the game went to extra time. As has so often been the case following a return, Sturridge was impressive, his guile and movement instantly improving Liverpool’s attack.
So the question remains, as it always seems to when it comes to Sturridge these days, whether he can stay fit now that he’s back playing again. There’s no doubt about his talent if he can. Even having barely played for the past 18 months there’s no doubt he’s one of the best strikers in the game. When he’s fit enough to play.
And from where Owen is sitting, the lack of information about just what is going wrong for Sturridgehas led some to assume the worst, fuelling speculation about his attitude and desire and helping to ferment a toxic environment for the player, at least when it comes to how he’s discussed in the media and viewed by fans.
"People are saying things that are potentially unfair," added Owen. "I’ve been injured before, and if he is getting muscle injuries I have every sympathy because they’re debilitating. You cannot play on with muscle injuries. They just tear and tear until they erupt. It’s the worst thing ever [for a football player].
"However, if he has joint pain—an ankle, a knee, a hip—it can be managed. It’s all about pain thresholds. We have not really been given the information so I do wince a little when I see people having a real go."