Sturridge edging closer to comeback
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge returns to Merseyside in the next 24 hours to provide a timely boost for the second half of the season.
The England international, who has not played for the Reds since August 31 because of thigh and calf problems, has been undergoing rehabilitation in the United States for the last month.
"He will be back into the country in the next 24 hours and he is into the final stages of that rehab," said manager Brendan Rodgers.
"A couple of years ago he came in the January window (from Chelsea) and made a great impact and has been fantastic when he has been fit here.
"He is a top-class player who has a wonderful idea of the game and wonderful qualities and if you put him into any team it makes them a better team - his pace is frightening, his touch, his movement...
"As a footballer he is at a great age and if he can sustain his fitness he has already shown in his goals here - one of the quickest players to the goals record he has here - we are hoping he can stay fit and lead the charge for us over the next few years."
It is hoped Sturridge will be ready to rejoin the first team in a couple of weeks and, while it will be like having a new signing coming in, Rodgers is keen not to rush him back in order to ensure there are no more concerns over his fitness.
It is an issue which has dogged the 25-year-old particularly since his arrival at Anfield two years ago and the Reds boss knows there can be no stone left unturned now as they plan for the future with Sturridge, scorer of 36 goals in 52 Liverpool games, as their spearhead.
"We are looking forward to having him back," added Rodgers.
"The work he has done in America has been fantastic; he has been well supported out there and he has travelled about to get treatment from the best people in the world.
"We are hoping at some point in January he will come back into the team and help us to achieve something.
"It is difficult to forecast, especially with injuries: you can put a date in and they come back earlier or it may take a bit more time.
"We have had lots of collaboration with our people in America, a lot of great work has gone on, we have been monitoring and he looks in a real good moment.
"We will assess him first, see where he is at and get the feeling from him.
"We have to take our time on this one - not just for us at Liverpool but over his career what (treatment) has gone on hasn't clearly worked as he gets a number of games and then is unfit.
"We are aiming to look after the medium and long-term here and he won't be rushed.
"Hopefully he won't be too far away."