Belfast Telegraph

No Daniel Sturridge as Liverpool plan for Premier League run-in with Hull

By Robert Jones

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is unsure if striker Daniel Sturridge will be fit enough to play again this season.

Sturridge, who has endured an injury-plagued campaign, has missed the last three games with a hip problem and will again be absent for tonight's Premier League trip to Hull.

Ulsterman Rodgers said: "It has been difficult for Daniel. Daniel is a good lad who obviously wants to play and be working and helping the team, but it has just been one of those seasons where he has been very unfortunate. We are going to have to monitor that day-by-day and see where he is at.

"When he has been fit he has been brilliant for the team. It is just the key now to see if we can get him back fit and consistently playing. We will see if that is going to be this season or the pre-season."

The former Chelsea forward scored 24 times for the Reds last term, but has since spent five months on the sidelines with thigh and calf injuries and his absences has been keenly felt, compounding the loss of the prolific Luis Suarez to Barcelona.

The alternative strikers Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini have all failed to impress and strengthening the attack is likely to be a transfer market priority this summer.

Rodgers said: "We have already got a top-class striker in Daniel, who is an outstanding player if we have him fit, but he needs help.

"If you look at the numbers in terms of where we are at, after 33 Premier League games we have 47 goals. At the same point last year, after 33, we had 90. You are nearly talking about a 100 per cent deficit in terms of goals.

"So that is something that is clear. Defensively we have been strong, despite what people want to write or say. Those areas have been addressed, but the critical area, which was the case when I came here, is about goalscoring."

Liverpool, fifth in the table, were held to a goalless draw at West Brom on Saturday, but Manchester United's loss to Everton has kept their Champions League hopes alive.

Victory at the KC Stadium would take the Reds back within four points of fourth-placed United with both sides then having four more games to play.

Rodgers said: "The idea is to go in and see if we can get the victory and keep putting as much pressure as we possibly can on the teams above.

"We can only focus on ourselves, but we saw last year lots of changes can take place in the last five games or so."

Some Liverpool supporters are organising a boycott of the game in protest at the cost of tickets. Liverpool fans' groups have been among the more vociferous on this issue and have balked at the £48 cost of seats at Hull.

Rodgers said: "Like everything in modern football, I respect the supporters' right to protest. I don't know so much about it, but supporters nowadays have to work very hard to get the money to go to football games."

Belfast Telegraph

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