Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Rodgers hails Sturridge's future

Daniel Sturridge has scored eight times in nine matches across all competitions this season
Daniel Sturridge has scored eight times in nine matches across all competitions this season

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Daniel Sturridge is on his way to becoming one of Europe's top strikers.

The 24-year-old has scored eight times in nine matches across all competitions this season and has 19 goals in 25 appearances since moving to Anfield from Chelsea in January.

He is expected to feature in England's forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Poland having won just six caps since his debut in November 2011.

Rodgers admits the striker's development has some way to go but on current evidence he has no doubts about his enduring quality.

"He's got a great touch, is very strong on his left side and his right side, he's got super pace - once he's away, he's away, you're not catching him," said the Reds boss.

"He's clever in his movement and his runs, he's a good footballer; he drops into spaces, picks up the ball, sets the game, spins. He's also got an eye for goal.

"The area that he's looking to improve on is his heading, as he showed last week away at Sunderland.

"He's a boy who I still think there's a lot of improvement to make.

"When he does, I think he can prove to be one of the top strikers in European football."

Sturridge is still not operating at 100 per cent having suffered an ankle injury in the friendly against the Republic of Ireland in May and he missed last month's internationals with a thigh problem.

That makes his early season form all the more impressive.

"He literally only joined in the last week or so of pre-season," Rodgers told liverpoolfc.com.

"To have missed out on pre-season, just come back with 10 days to go and play how he has done so far without a lot of rest has been remarkable.

"For him it's just about maintaining that consistency - he knows that and that's from the training field.

"He's working hard in training, working hard in the games and getting his reward.

"When he gets up to real fitness in a few games' time, he will become even better."

Rodgers is fortunate in having two top-class strikers at his disposal as Luis Suarez's return from suspension has seen the Uruguay international score three times in two games.

That has helped Liverpool to second in the league table, behind Arsenal only on goal difference.

"Their qualities are different. If you look at Luis, he's a great box player," Rodgers said.

"He's got wonderful feet in and around the box, he can make things happen out of nothing, he always has defenders on the back foot because of his trickery, and he can finish left foot or right foot.

"So he will always ask defenders questions, especially in and around the box where they have maybe got to dive in a bit more.

"Daniel is a different type altogether; he's got all-round great qualities."

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