Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Sturridge 'thriving on confidence'

Daniel Sturridge struggled for game time at both Manchester City and Chelsea

Daniel Sturridge is feeding on his newfound confidence at Liverpool, according to manager Brendan Rodgers.

The 23-year-old struggled for game time at both Manchester City and Chelsea, managing a combined total of just 36 Barclays Premier League starts in six years between his professional debut in 2007 and January 2013.

It was then that Rodgers paid in the region of £12million for his services and Sturridge has not looked back since.

Ten league goals in 11 starts followed for the Reds over the second half of last term and the frontman, who spent the summer recovering from an ankle injury sustained while on England duty, has picked up where he left off.

Saturday's superbly taken effort secured a 1-0 victory at Aston Villa, just a week after his strike had been the difference in a 1-0 opening-day win over Stoke, to leave Liverpool with maximum points from their opening two games of the season.

Asked about the key to Sturridge's transformation, Rodgers said: "There's a few things. Firstly, it's opportunity and confidence. He's a player who thrives on confidence.

"He's come into a really special football club where the supporters have made him feel really welcome and he's thriving on that.

"He's always had the ability but it's very difficult. He was at a great club at Manchester City and probably when he was about to get his chance, having come through the system there, all the money came into the club and there probably was no opportunity for a young player.

"So he made the move to Chelsea thinking maybe he was going to get more opportunities but there was Didier Drogba, senior players in front of him, so he never really got the chance, and then when he did play it was probably more in a wide area.

"He's a number nine, he can move, he can sprint, he's a really good footballer as well, he's not just a goalscorer. You see his movement, his touch, and he's thrived on the confidence of his team-mates and the people around the club."

Another player benefiting from regular first-team football is Villa's Fabian Delph.

The former Leeds midfielder, 23, added to his burgeoning reputation with another impressive display against the Reds on Saturday, coming on the back of a demanding opening week of the new season for the midlands club with games also against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Villa boss Paul Lambert said: "He's training more days than he did before we came in, consistency and confidence, it's probably a mixture of everything.

"He's playing ever so well at the minute, there's no two ways about it, but I have nothing but praise for the whole team after the three games we've come through.

"He's only a young lad still, if he can keep injury free then he's got a big, big future."

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