Klopp backs oft-injured Sturridge to bounce back

Daniel Sturridge missed Juergen Klopp's first game in charge of Liverpool, but the German hopes the forward will be fit to play a Europa League game tomorrow.
Daniel Sturridge missed Juergen Klopp's first game in charge of Liverpool, but the German hopes the forward will be fit to play a Europa League game tomorrow.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Juergen Klopp insists that he retains total trust in Daniel Sturridge, despite the forward missing the German's first game as Liverpool manager because of a knee problem. The setback was the latest in a long line of injuries that have restricted him to only seven Premier League starts in the past 12 months.

Klopp left Sturridge out of the squad for Liverpool's goalless draw away to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday because the 26-year-old's knee swelled up after a training-ground challenge with Jordon Ibe, the winger, 48 hours earlier.

Klopp's thinking was influenced by the Liverpool medical department and Sturridge's well-documented struggles with injury, which have restricted his playing time since the start of last season.

Rather than risk Sturridge when he was not 100 per cent fit, the Liverpool manager erred on the side of caution, particularly after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries to Danny Ings and Joe Gomez.

And the German hopes that the former Chelsea player will recover before a run of 15 games between now and the end of the year.

Klopp is also hoping that Sturridge will be fit to face Russian outfit Rubin Kazan in a Europa League Group B game tomorrow, but said that he has no reason to lose trust in the England international.

"I have known Daniel now for one week and for six days (and) he was perfect in training," Klopp said.

"Everything we did he was full of power, skills. He was outstanding. So many good things, and then he got this contact with Ibe.

"In another situation I would have talked to him and said, 'Please try.' But we can't in a week of two ACLs. Come on. It is OK for Daniel (to miss this one). We need Daniel for sure, and if we played the game (against Tottenham) on Thursday then maybe he would play. No problem.

"I trust this player 100 per cent. If Daniel is back, then he can play, no problem. If he is not, then I don't think about it because if the medics and physiotherapists tell me it is not possible, then it is not possible. I don't have to discuss it, just think about another solution."

His pragmatic approach will not deflect the doubts that continue to surround Sturridge, who has become something of a forgotten man for club and country as a result of his unreliability.

He has not played for England since injuring a hamstring during a training session with the national team in September last year. He was contacted recently by Roy Hodgson, who urged him to prove his fitness before next month's friendly internationals against Spain and France.

Significantly, the England manager admitted that he does not feel able to offer Sturridge any guarantees about his status within the national squad before Euro 2016 because of how long he has been unavailable.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Klopp backs oft-injured Sturridge to bounce back'. Print Edition | Subscribe