England striker Daniel Sturridge has recently returned from injury to train with the first-team ahead of Thursday’s friendly against Portugal, but given this summer’s European Championship is just over a week away, will the Liverpool man be match fit in time?
Sturridge has been struggling for fitness throughout the entirety of last season. The 26-year-old made just 11 Premier League starts for the Merseysiders in 2015/16, and missed England’s friendlies against Turkey and Australia with a niggle. He was training on his own over the weekend but joined the first-team squad on Monday, and is hoping to get some game time against Portugal.
Manager Roy Hodgson has been keeping his cards close to his chest when speaking about Sturridge, but it’s clear he needs to be convinced the centre-forward can handle the rigours of playing matches just days apart in the European Championships. The Liverpool striker is an outstanding talent, evident from the eight goals scored in 11 league starts in last season’s injury-hit campaign, but England are blessed with depth in attack.
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford was a beneficiary of Sturridge missing out of England’s recent Australia clash, scoring just minutes into his senior team debut, and reports are now suggesting the teenager will make the squad regardless. As for the Liverpool man, he will learn his fate on Tuesday night if he’s made the 23-man squad. Hodgson needs to axe two more players and Sturridge is in the firing line given the lack of game time of late.
However, it’s easy to forget just how good the 26-year-old is even when his season has been disrupted with injury problems. Daniel Sturridge boasts a 122 minutes-per-game ratio in the Premier League with Liverpool in 2015/16, and scored an outstanding effort in the Europa League final this month too. He’s a player who can produce magic in attack when given the faith to impress so Hodgson wouldn’t axe Sturridge lightly.
He would have been right on the tails of Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) and Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) if fully fit, but might have to make do with substitute appearances. Sturridge has another day to train with the England squad before Hodgson names his 23-man squad. Given the former Chelsea and Manchester City man hasn’t featured for England this summer, he faces a sweat when the final squad is announced at midnight on Tuesday.
Sturridge could still have a role to play as an impact player, but Roy Hodgson has already stated he won’t take chances on any players carrying injuries. It could be a miserable summer for the Liverpool man if he misses out.