After countless injury woes and a loan spell to forget at West Brom during the second half of last season, Daniel Sturridge returned to Melwood for pre-season training earlier this month. Having played only six games for the Baggies last season, Sturridge has been open about his desire to be an integral role player in Liverpool’s first team this coming season.
Sturridge has backed his words up on the pitch and has been immense in the pre-season fixtures he has featured in, reminding everyone exactly why selling him would be an utterly terrible idea. While he may not possess the same pace he once had, due to his injuries, Sturridge remains a cut above when it comes to his natural ability with a ball at his feet, embodying the tagline, “Form is temporary, class is permanent”.
He also has the Liverpool fan base holding their collective breath with hope (in our hearts) that he maintains his fitness and makes the impact we all know he is capable of. At 28, Sturridge is in his football prime and is more than capable of proving his doubters wrong. Best of all, he has the ambition to be a part of Liverpool’s journey on the road to success and hopefully, win trophies.
“I love it here,” Sturridge said, speaking to the club’s official site on Monday about his return to the club, how his time away at West Brom helped him gain perspective, his ambitions for pre-season, and his desire to be part of the team’s success going forward. “I love the lads and the banter in the group is unbelievable. I feel at home again. It doesn’t matter where I play or which role I’m in, as long as I’m out there and pushing myself to my limits.
“The minutes are important in pre-season, putting your best foot forward and working as hard as you can. It was important for me to get my head in the right place and evolve as a person. I had things that I needed to sort out with my family and things like that. I’m just happy to be back and to push myself and be part of the group again.”
Last season, some of us may not have agreed with loaning Sturridge out to any team whatsoever, let alone West Brom, but it is evident that the time away was exactly what he needed to regain his drive and his hunger to win.
“When I went away I learned too,” he continued. “That’s also a good thing. When you’re not involved in the environment you learn a lot about yourself, the team, watching from afar and seeing how the team are playing. You can learn when you’re outside the environment. I learned a lot watching the games the boys were playing in and also being away and being in a different team’s environment and seeing how they work too.”
Now, back with Liverpool, Sturridge has an opportunity to cement himself in Klopp’s plans in the coming weeks. And with the conscious shift he has made, the change in his overall mindset, may be the catalyst that ensures he avoids any unwanted time on the side lines.
“My ambition is to train hard and work hard in pre-season,” he added. “I’m not putting any pressure on myself or the management or my teammates. It’s about enjoying myself. I’m part of an unbelievable group, we have a chance to be successful this season. Everybody is pulling together and being part of that unity – being together as one and trying to make this team successful – is what it’s all about.
“We want to win trophies and we want to be successful. It starts now and it’s a long season. It doesn’t matter whether you play the first game or the 50th game – as long as you’re involved in the journey that’s all that matters.”
Welcome home, Dan. Y.N.W.A.