Two summers ago, Daniel Sturridge was a Chelsea striker. Or, more often, a winger. Or, even more often, sitting on the bench. He was England's next big thing, but the striker's career seemed stalled and at only 22 years of age he was left off of the England squad at 2012's European Championships while being talked about as a could have been who was probably never going to be.
Six months later he transferred to Liverpool, and in the season and a half since has scored 31 goals in 43 league appearances, second only to teammate Luis Suarez amongst players in England's Premier League. Now, if England are to have any hopes of moving past the group stages in Brazil, they likely rest on Sturridge being able to carry over his club form to the international level.
Caps: 11, Goals: 4
Service for England: Until this season, Sturridge has mostly found himself at the fringes of the England national team. Scoring 21 times for Liverpool the club level and forming the league's deadliest attack partnership with Luis Suarez—who Sturridge and England will face in Group D action—has a way of getting you noticed, though, and Sturridge has gone from question mark to make it to Brazil to lock to start in a little over a year.
The question, though, is whether manager Roy Hodgson can get the best out of him, with it likely he will be partnered with Wayne Rooney, an attacker far less mobile and creative than Liverpool teammate Suarez. Still, the inclusion of multiple Liverpool players on the England squad—key amongst them Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, and captain Steven Gerrard—will hopefully give Sturridge a solid platform to succeed on.
What makes him interesting: Despite his success with Liverpool, there remain question marks surrounding Sturridge. The player gained a reputation for selfishness that he has shed at his new club, but at Liverpool he plays in a side that suits his strengths perfectly. Even then, when the game isn't going Sturridge's way he can at times cut a frustrated and frustrating figure, holding on to the ball too long and forcing play.
There's at least some reason to worry that if England don't set up to get the best out of him and he becomes frustrated, the Daniel Sturridge who appears in Brazil could end up looking a lot more like the player stuck on Chelsea's bench who missed out on the last European Championships than the world class striker who terrorised defenders in England this past season.
What to expect in Brazil: If Roy Hodgson starts Sturridge alongside his Liverpool teammates in a flowing, attacking system that allows him to run at defenders you can expect goals, and lots of them. If the England manager deploys him as a more static attacking point with his back often to goal, it could be a frustrating tournament for Sturridge. And a short one for England.