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Daniel Sturridge happy to play support role as he works way back to full fitness

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is remaining positive as he tries to fight his way back into the side after injury.

The England international scored 56 seconds after coming off the bench in the 4-1 win over Stoke in only his second appearance since returning from a month out with a calf problem.

On his previous outing - as an 82nd minute substitute against Everton - he helped win the Merseyside derby with a shot against the post which was turned in by Sadio Mane, the man who may yet offer him a way back into the side.

Mane, the Reds' leading scorer with eight, has two matches remaining against Manchester City and Sunderland before leaving for the African Nations Cup and with his absence likely to be for at least a month there will be an opening on the forward line.

Playmaker Philippe Coutinho is also nearing full fitness after an ankle injury and will contest that place but Sturridge is also focused on helping the team.

"The most important thing is that I keep my mindset as positive as possible," he said after his first league goal of the season.

"It's a team game at the end of the day - everyone is going to be needed in the squad. I've not had any issues or problems within the camp.

"I'm enjoying my football and when I get my minutes I focus myself and if I'm not in the team I stay positive and give my input when I can."

Liverpool have now scored four or more goals in half of their eight league matches at Anfield, where they have scored 25 times.

Even after conceding the first goal at home for the first time this season they bounced back impressively, aided by some lax Stoke defending, to win comfortably.

"We never give up, we keep going throughout the game and we know that the hard work is going to pay off at some point," Sturridge told Sky Sports.

"That's the most important thing for us. It's nice to play and score goals.

"It's important that the team keeps going and puts the pressure on."

For the second match running manager Jurgen Klopp praised Sturridge for his contribution.

"I was more than pleased, it was a perfect goal," said the German of the way his striker seized on a backpass from Ryan Shawcross to confidently round goalkeeper Lee Grant.

"In a situation like this, 3-1 up but still intense, you can then use the quality Daniel has.

"In this moment you can learn a lot of things in life but not being in this position in this moment - that's natural and doing what he did was perfect.

"It was a wonderful goal and very important because it closed the game and gave us the opportunity to cool down a little bit."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes was disappointed with the way they defended but felt his gameplan - playing Peter Crouch and Jon Walters up front - offered a pointer for other visitors to Anfield.

"I don't think too many teams come here and play two up top and they didn't deal with it very well," he said.

"I am sure a lot of other teams will look at what we did and try to replicate it."

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