Belfast Telegraph

Sturridge treatment angers Rodgers

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has criticised England's treatment of Daniel Sturridge after the striker was ruled out for up to three weeks with a thigh problem.

The 25-year-old was injured during a training session at St George's Park on Friday just over 36 hours after playing 89 minutes of the friendly against Norway.

England boss Roy Hodgson was preparing his players for Monday's opening Euro 2016 qualifier in Switzerland but Rodgers claimed had Sturridge been with his club he would have been given extra time to recover in the same situation and suggested the national team set-up did not consider individual needs sufficiently.

"It could be up to three weeks, which is obviously disappointing as I think it could have been an injury which could have been avoided," said the Reds boss.

"We have Emre Can back from Germany (Under-21s) who could be out for up to six weeks with an ankle injury he got when they were 6-0 up.

"We got Joe Allen, back after playing on an awful (artificial) pitch, who has an issue with his knee.

"Those are the types of things that can happen in a game and are unfortunate.

"But in Daniel's situation he is a fast and dynamic player and his recovery, like every player here, is individualised.

"The disappointment for us it would have been a recovery day (not training) for him so for him to pick up a thigh injury when he did was something which was disappointing for us.

"Those types of players you have to recover individually, you can't just throw a blanket over them and think one recovery fits everyone because it doesn't.

"Players are different types. When we had Luis Suarez here on an active recovery second day he would have needed to do some extra work and that made him available and we were happy with that.

"Other players needed different types (of recovery). It is about the individual.

"Hopefully we can communicate in the future more because it is about maximising the player's ability to play.

"We have lost a player who was outstanding in his last game against Tottenham and we certainly feel it could have been prevented."

Rodgers did not directly apportion blame to Hodgson as he believed the England manager's backroom team probably had a significant input into the decision.

However, it is not the first time he has been unhappy with the national team's treatment of Sturridge.

Last November Hodgson argued he was "testing the resolve" of the striker by playing him for 90 minutes in a friendly defeat to Germany, despite the player having complained of a thigh problem that had already forced him to miss World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine two months earlier.

As a result when Sturridge returned to his club he was left out of the starting line-up for the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park five days later only to come off the bench to score a late equaliser.

Rodgers hopes, however, he can maintain a good relationship with Hodgson and other national team bosses.

"I think there is good communication. I haven't spoken to Roy about this case since the guys returned but I speak regularly with him and the other international managers," he added.

"Roy has probably been led by some of the expert sports science people he has around him and for whatever reason Dan was deemed able to train."

In Sturridge's absence it seems likely greater responsibility will fall on £16million summer signing Mario Balotelli.

Even though he was not called up for international duty the break was not a quiet one for the Italian after rumours circulated on social media that he had kicked an opponent in the head during a behind-closed-doors friendly against Wolves.

During his first spell in England with Manchester City Balotelli attracted as many headlines for off-field incidents as for the things he did on the pitch but on this occasion Rodgers was unconcerned.

"It is a story which was made up. The guy did absolutely nothing wrong," he explained.

"We played a game here and Mario fell over, tackled by the young lad George Saville, and George gets up and rubs his head and the next time I see it is reported Mario kicked him in the head.

"There was no incident at all and Mario has been as good as gold since he came in.

"It doesn't impact negatively, we just move on."

Aside from the new injuries picked up over the international break Rodgers will also be without defenders Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan for Saturday's visit of Aston Villa.

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