Sturridge return boosts Reds
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has welcomed one striker back into his squad and shortly hopes to be able to do the same with another.
England international Daniel Sturridge made his first appearance of the summer on Saturday when he returned from an ankle injury sustained in May to play 45 minutes in a pre-season friendly against Celtic.
The 23-year-old's return will be a welcome boost for Rodgers given the ongoing furore surrounding Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan has been told to apologise by Rodgers in the wake of his repeated attempts to force a move from the club amid interest from Arsenal, and has been training away from the first-team squad.
"Initially there will be a recognition that (there needs to be) an apology to his team-mates and the club," said Rodgers when asked on Saturday what Suarez needed to do next.
"I have seen him over a period of time and I know it is not the Luis Suarez we know and I have to protect the fans and the players because they deserve more than that."
Even if Suarez stays, Sturridge's return is timely with the South American banned for the first six games of the season after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic during the last campaign.
Asked about Sturridge, Rodgers said: "I thought he was excellent. He made a difference when he came on with that power and pace and that link-up play with (Philippe) Coutinho was great.
"He is working hard to get fit and after those 45 minutes we have a behind-closed-doors game in midweek and we'll assess him after that."
The loss to Celtic was Liverpool's only defeat in seven pre-season friendlies and only the second goal they had conceded.
Creating chances against the Scottish champions was not the issue with Coutinho continuing the form he has shown from the back-end of the previous campaign through pre-season.
The young Brazilian is already starting to look like an astute signing by Rodgers, who brought him in from Inter Milan for £8.5million in January.
"Coutinho has been fantastic," he said.
"He is a wonderful footballer and a joy to watch. He was disappointed he didn't score (against Celtic) because he had a couple of opportunities.
"Him, (Steven) Gerrard and Sturridge are all on that same wavelength and their interplay and the way they combined was very promising.
"The players have worked extremely hard and are in really good shape physically and we are itching to get going."
Rodgers' options for his impromptu midweek friendly will be restricted by international call-ups, and while he is frustrated he accepts it is part of the modern football calendar.
"It is not ideal the players come off the back of a hard pre-season, having travelled all around the world, and then they have to go away and play an international friendly game," he said.
"I believe this is the last year of that (having a fixture scheduled immediately prior to the start of a Premier League campaign).
"The players we have at Liverpool are very honoured to play for their country and I am sure the international managers respect there is a big weekend ahead next weekend."
Celtic have already played in five competitive matches after their involvement in Champions League qualifiers and the start of the Scottish Premiership season.
Hoops manager Neil Lennon hopes to get more out of 22-year-old striker Amido Balde, who has made just one appearance in those five matches but put in a strong performance against Liverpool and scored the only goal.
"He has done very well. He is unfortunate not to have started some more competitive games but we want to ease him into it," he said of his summer signing from Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes.
"There is a hunger about him. He has been an excellent acquisition to the squad.
"He is a different type of player to what we've had. We've not had that physical presence since John Hartson and Chris Sutton and sometimes you need that when pitches get rough in the winter.
"He is raw, we know that, and he has a lot of work to do, but he has some great attributes."
Lennon is still hoping to add to his squad before the end of the transfer window.
"There is money there and we just have to find the right one and the affordability of the player in terms of transfer fee," he added.
"We are working hard."