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Sturridge, "Never Really Close" for Everton, Faces Basel Fitness Test

Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool's attack will begin to click with the return of Daniel Sturridge. The question, though, is whether the striker is ready to return just yet.

Alex Livesey

Though early talk had Daniel Sturridge in contention to face Everton, as Saturday's match neared his status grew more doubtful until, in the end, he wasn't even able to make the bench. Brendan Rodgers has since admitted that the striker wasn't close, and the question now becomes whether he travels to Basel for Wednesday.

"He wasn't really close for the game," said the manager. "We needed to see if he could train on the Friday, but I got the message on Thursday night that he would struggle, so he wasn't really close to playing. We'll see how he is for Basel. He wasn't far away for Everton, but he certainly wasn't fit enough to be on the bench."

Sturridge is expected to undergo a fitness test today to determine if he even joins the rest of the squad on the trip or remains in Liverpool to continue his rehabilitation. Either way, the expectation is that at the latest he will be ready to face West Bromwich Albion on Saturday—and to then head off with England should he be selected.

"It helps to have his pace," added Rodgers when asked if having Sturridge on the bench would have made a difference against Everton. "When you are 1-0 up and the opposition has to come on to you, that pace through the middle can help then. But Daniel is obviously a top talent, whatever part of the game he comes into, and he's not far away from being back playing."

With Raheem Sterling's game suffering after playing 120 minutes earlier in the week, having a fresh set of legs to threaten Everton and at least keep them a little bit honest as they pushed for an equalizer would certainly have helped. Mario Balotelli, despite the promise of the effort he's shown, has also shown he isn't the striker to do that.

He also, so far, hasn't answered the questions about finishing and shot selection issues he arrived at the club with. Always having been a player who counted on the volume of shots he took leading to a few goals from open play, so far he has taken 29 to score one goal for Liverpool. Rodgers, though, believes that with the return of Sturridge things will start to click.

"We want to score goals," he added, "but I believe that as the season goes on that we will become better and better at that. I think today was a step towards what we're working for. It was an excellent performance against a very good side and we were clearly the better team, and when we bring back the likes of Daniel, who is influential for us, we will get better."

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