Brendan Rodgers: patience is needed on Daniel Sturridge's Liverpool return
Brendan Rodgers has asked for Liverpool fans to be realistic about the contribution Daniel Sturridge can make for the club this season and said it was "very hard to forecast" when his much-needed return to the side would come.
Sturridge has not played for Liverpool since the 3-0 win at Tottenham in August - a catastrophe for the side that has also lost Luis Suarez.
Rodgers confirmed that the 26-year-old is back in training after spending the Christmas period working with the Boston Red Sox medical team in America to overcome his ninth thigh injury, but the manager said only "time will tell" when the striker will start for the team, with an appearance at Aston Villa this weekend out of the question and a return to the starting XI before February seeming unlikely.
"People do have to be more realistic," Rodgers said of Sturridge. "It will take him time.
"First he has to get fit, generally. Fortunately enough, his body allows him [to regain fitness.] But there's match fitness, football fitness, so it will take a wee bit of time.
"Just having him on field to begin with will be critical to the team because I think his threat is obvious.
"Its' the only way we will get him back up to speed.
"It's been our job over the last number of months to find that solution for him. We have called in experts from different parts of the world so we are hoping it will allow him to stay fit for longer and a more consistent period. Let's hope that will be the case."
Rodgers also insisted that Mario Balotelli "isn't going anywhere" this month.