After missing most of the past two seasons with a seemingly unending series of injuries, Daniel Sturridge has rather miraculously managed to stay fit for the past two months. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, the 26-year-old striker has yet to look at his best.
There have been a couple of goals for Sturridge to go with a few promising moments, but his movement hasn’t been at its best. And despite that he never wants to come off the pitch once he’s on it, it’s been clear to everyone watching on that Sturridge has begun to struggle as the games wear on.
"I think you can tell that he’s not at 100% yet," opined ex-Red John Aldridge. "It’s maybe taking him a little longer to get that explosiveness back in his game, and I think that’s frustrating him. I watched him closely on Saturday, and I would like to see him moving across the line more.
"That’s his game. At times on Saturday he was dropping into midfield and coming deep for the ball, and that’s not what we need from him. I know he wasn’t too happy when he came off, and fair enough, but for me it was the right call. We needed a bit more threat in behind and to be a bit more direct."
Such has been Sturridge’s lack of sharpness so far that some fans have begun to call for Origi in some situations—and not just as a change of pace at the end of matches. There’s a case to be made that playing defensively, on the counter, against Dortmund on Thursday would suit him better.
It would have been shocking to consider back when Sturridge wasn’t available, that he could be fit at any point this season but might not be the best option to lead the line, but with Sturridge looking a step slow there’s a solid case to be made for Origi’s running against a deadly Dortmund side.
Still, when on his game, there are few better strikers than Sturridge. And if he can find something resembling form and fitness, his presence in the starting eleven on Thursday could be invaluable. The only real question is whether he’s on the verge of finding it or remains some time away.
"I think the way he took [his missed chance against Tottenham] shows there is a lack of confidence with Daniel at the moment," Aldridge added. "Usually, you’d expect him to take a touch, pick his spot and find the corner. But he rushed it, blasted it first time, and hit it straight at the ‘keeper."