• Premier League

Sturridge a doubt for Merseyside derby

ESPN staff
November 21, 2013
Daniel Sturridge has scored eight goals for Liverpool this season © Getty Images

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is a doubt for Saturday's derby with Everton because of a dead leg.

Manager Brendan Rodgers says that Sturridge was already carrying the injury when he joined up with the England squad.

But the 24-year-old played a full 90 minutes for his country on Tuesday night as Germany won 1-0 at Wembley in a friendly.

Sturridge is the Premier League's joint-top scorer this season with eight goals, having formed an effective partnership with Luis Suarez.

"He went to England with an injury," Rodgers said. "He's had a dead leg for three to four weeks, and he's been playing through with it. He hardly trained when he left after the Fulham game.

"But sometimes managers are led by players as well. You as a manager can only ask the player how they feel. If they say they're happy, they want to play - and want to play 90 minutes - then that's something you'll consider.

"Roy's obviously spoken with Daniel and he's played the game. We'll assess him. He's obviously back recovering after that, and we'll see how it is over the next couple of days."

Suarez, who also has eight league goals this season, will be available for the trip to Goodison Park, though.

Liverpool's principal owner John W Henry made sure of that by offering his private jet to fly the striker back from Montevideo, where Suarez helped ensure Uruguay qualified for the 2014 World Cup finals with a 0-0 draw against Jordan on Wednesday.

Captain Steven Gerrard, who has had a series of injections to help ease a persistent hip problem, will also be available, although left-back Jose Enrique is facing a long-term absence, as he needs an operation to sort out a knee injury.

Rodgers believes his players are better equipped to cope with Goodison Park's intimidating atmosphere than they were a year ago. He feels his side are more resilient now than they have been at any time during his year-and-a-half in charge.

Liverpool visit Everton looking to improve on the 2-2 draw they earned their last season, when Rodgers' side would have won the game had Suarez not seen a late goal wrongly ruled out for offside.

But the manager is optimistic that he can earn his first Merseyside derby win this weekend, having come out with two draws last season.

"I'd been there before as a manager with Swansea, but last year was a totally different game," Rodgers said. "It's a very hostile environment, but the players coped with it brilliantly.

"It's a real good venue for football, but it's a ground that will test your character. That's something that we look forward to doing, because if there's one thing we've improved on in the time I've been here, it's been that resilience in our team.

"OK, we'll lose games, but our ability to bounce back and be resolute is improving all the time. It will be a good ground to go and play at. It will be great for us to go and play our football.

"Every game away from home is a test of character, but when it's a derby game, with the rivalry and history of this fixture, it will always test you. It's a great atmosphere there, and I know the players enjoy performing at the opponent's ground, and we hope we can go there and win."

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