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On Daniel Sturridge and the Balm of Forgetfulness

Liverpool cannot count on Sturridge as a regular starter, but just for a moment it can be pleasant to forget about that.

Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

It's easy to forget the injuries, the absences, the long stretches where Daniel Sturridge either isn't fit or where the results of countless injuries on his acceleration and top end pace become glaringly, unavoidably apparent. It's easy to forget all that any time the 27-year-old striker steps up and delivers a star performance.

He did just that on Sunday, against West Ham, in a game Liverpool needed to win and a game that now that they have makes top four qualification a near certainty. One day, one afternoon in May with Liverpool's season on the line, and all the reasons why Liverpool cannot rely on him as first choice striker are forgotten.

It's easy to do when Sturridge offers a reminder of what once was, and the timing of this reminder in particular makes it difficult. It makes it difficult as Liverpool prepare to enter the transfer market with Sturridge likely on his way out on account of his injury record. The striker, though, says he's not worrying about that.

"The manager has shown faith in me and we have a good relationship as well," Sturridge said in a post-match interview when asked about his future. "I don't have any worries about next season. I am looking forward to this last game. We need the three points of course and then we'll be in the Champions League."

Sturridge has missed nearly three months this season, that coming after two prior injury-plagued campaigns. He hasn't started in the league since Liverpool faced Sunderland in January. When he has played, often his declining acceleration has hindered his ability to make the kinds of runs that used to be key to his game.

Liverpool cannot count on him to be their first choice striker, no matter how good a reminder Sunday was. But if the rumours that Jürgen Klopp didn't consider striker a top target even with Sturridge's likely departure and the manager planning to head into next season with Roberto Firmino his top choice, maybe that's fine.

Or at least it could be if Sturridge is able to accept staying at the club but not being first choice. That he likely isn't, of course—he's still only 27 and even if, like Fernando Torres, he has hit an unfortunately early physical decline, he will still see a lot of football in front of him—loops it all back around to the start.

Still, for a week or two, there's a sliver of hope thanks to Sunday's reminder of the kind of player he can be at his best. Liverpool can't count on him to be that, week in and out, as they prepare to re-enter the Champions League. But it would be nice to imagine a future where he's still at the club and still has a role to play.

"I felt sharp," Sturridge added of his performance on Sunday. "I'm glad to be starting and glad to be providing some chances for the boys as well and it's a great victory for us. It's important for everyone at the club. We've been good the last few weeks but maybe we should have taken more points in some of the games.

"We rose to the occasion, we showed what we were about, we worked hard and kept the ball well and we did everything the manager asked of us. It's a great feeling. This was an important game for us. It was a big one."

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