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Sturridge Could Be Set for Merseyside Derby Return

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An injury on international duty with England has ruled Daniel Sturridge out of at least four Liverpool matches in three different competitions, but Brendan Rodgers expects him to be in the running for Everton's visit in the Merseyside derby on September 27.

Laurence Griffiths

When Luis Suarez left this summer, the one thing most wished he had left behind (other than maybe one or two of the goals) was his incredible fitness record. Suarez played nearly every minute of every match he was eligible for during his time at Liverpool, leaving little concern about whether or not he'd be available on short rest or after serving on international duty. Disciplinary issues meant he was often unavailable for other reasons, but in terms of fitness, few could match the Uruguayan's endurance.

That's proved especially true with Daniel Sturridge, who's been chased by injuries throughout his career and in the year and a half since arriving at Liverpool. If it's not one thing it's another, and most recently it was an ill-conceived training session while on England duty that saw him suffer a thigh strain. The FA have compensated Liverpool financially for the player's absence, but on the pitch it's been hard to replace him.

The one positive appears to be that the 24-year-old has become adept at rehabbing, putting in extra hours to make himself available at the earliest possible moment, which could hopefully result in a spot in the squad when Everton arrive next Saturday in the season's first Merseyside derby:

"Daniel is doing well and is out on the field doing some work. He should hopefully be back training at some point next week and will have a chance for the derby."

In the past two matches we've seen the importance of Sturridge in this Liverpool squad; in the loss against Villa there was no support for Mario Balotelli and little help coming from the midfield, and the song was largely the same in the narrow win over Ludogoret despite more chances coming. His work rate, pace, and movement--with and without the ball--were on display in the resounding win over Spurs, and there's no doubt that Liverpool would have been more dangerous going forward had he been fit.

Rodgers was patient last season with Sturridge in a Merseyside derby, but it's clear that his side need Sturridge's presence as a focal point in attack.