Football: Injury-plagued Sturridge marks return with goal

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge controls the ball during their English Premier League soccer match against West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England Jan 31, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge controls the ball during their English Premier League soccer match against West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England Jan 31, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LIVERPOOL (AFP) - Daniel Sturridge marked his long-awaited return from injury with a goal as the Liverpool striker came off the bench to score against West Ham on Saturday.

Sturridge had been named among Liverpool's substitutes for the Premier League match at Anfield after spending nearly five months out of action with a series of injuries.

He had been sidelined with thigh and calf injuries since September, but Reds boss Brendan Rodgers decided he was finally fit enough to return against the Hammers at Anfield after a 153-day absence and he eventually came on as a 67th minute replacement for Lazar Markovic.

Just 13 minutes later, Sturridge was on the scoresheet for the first time since the opening day of the season when he collected Philippe Coutinho's pass and slotted home to put his side 2-0 ahead.

The 25-year-old hadn't played since injuring his thigh on international duty with England, having sustained a calf problem and a further thigh injury during the rehabilitation process.

Sturridge, who had made only three appearances for Liverpool this term, spent time in Los Angeles and Boston in a bid to speed up his rehabilitation and Rodgers admitted he looked in good form after returning to training this week.

The absence of Sturridge, who scored 24 club goals last season, and the sale of Uruguay striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona have been widely cited as the key reasons why Liverpool have failed to recapture the form that saw them challenge for the Premier League title last season.