- Premier League
Sturridge: I am off the pace
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has said he is some way short of match fitness despite making a scoring debut for his new club at Mansfield on Sunday.
Sturridge marked his first appearance in a Liverpool shirt with a goal in the FA Cup third round tie, but the striker, who signed from Chelsea for a reported £12 million last week, conceded that he has a long way to go before he hits peak form.
"I am lacking sharpness in front of goal," he told the Liverpool Echo. "I missed a few chances, but hopefully the ones I missed will go in once I get my fitness. I was quite tired out there as I haven't been playing or training much over the last few months, but I'm grateful to the boss for giving me nearly 60 minutes."
The debate over whether Sturridge and Liverpool's leading scorer Luis Suarez can start in the same line-up is set to be tested in this weekend's showdown against Manchester United at Old Trafford, with Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers convinced he has a duo who can strike up an understanding.
"They can play together - there's no problem with that," Rodgers insisted as he moved to clarify his earlier comments suggesting that Suarez would need to move into wide position to accommodate Sturridge.
"Obviously we want to fit in good players and that's the most important thing, to keep the squad strong and build up a competitive group. They are both wonderful players, they have both got different strengths, but the idea was bringing in players that are multifunctional and can play in a couple of positions. That is what Luis has shown he can do, and Daniel also. They are both tactically strong, flexible in their play.
"I know what to expect from Daniel: he is a goalscorer. He's nowhere near fully fit, but he's going to create chances and have opportunities to score. He's got pace and power and gives us that presence up front, and there's a lot to come from him."
Sturridge went on to thank his new Liverpool team-mates for welcoming him to Anfield and said he hoped to shine at the club for many more seasons. "All the lads have been great with me and they've made it easy for me to settle in over the past few days," he added. I want to say thank you to them for making me feel so welcome. I look forward to playing with them for many years to come."