Boost For Liverpool as Sturridge Returns From Injury a Month Ahead of Schedule

January 8, 2014

stuDaniel Sturridge is ready to offer a massive boost to Liverpool’s title challenge with a timely comeback.
The free-scoring striker has been sidelined since the end of November after damaging ankle ligaments in training, and wasn’t expected to return until the end of January.
But after swiftly discarding his crutches, the Reds’ £12million signing was back in full training on Monday and has been given the all-clear to put himself in contention for the weekend visit to Stoke.
It is a huge bonus for Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers, who has been desperately juggling an injury crisis that has seen him lose several of his key performers over the Christmas and New Year period.
And the return of Sturridge couldn’t be better timed.
The Liverpool manager is struggling to make an impact in the January transfer market, and it has emerged he may miss out on two of his attacking targets.
Rodgers was hoping to take exciting young Barcelona forward Cristian Tello on loan until the end of the season, but the Spanish champions have slammed the door shut on that deal.
Tello is unhappy with his lack of first team opportunities this season after starting just two La Liga matches, but Barca have made it clear to the 22-year-old Spain international they simply can’t afford to let him go now as they have a lengthy injury list and he is required as cover but may consider selling him in the summer.
Rodgers is also keen on £9m-rated Egypt international Mohamed Salah, but it now seems the Reds are far more likely to push through a transfer at the end of the season.
Talks have been ongoing with the attacking midfielder’s Swiss club, Basel, but the fee for a player who will have less than two years left on his contract in the summer remains a sticking point.
Rodgers is unsure if spending the extra cash it would require to secure Salah now will deliver instant dividends, as it is likely the 21-year-old will require time to adapt to the Premier League.
Instead, the Anfield manager may decide to save his transfer kitty until the summer, and attempt to bring in loan players as temporary solutions to his pressing need to add depth to the squad.
Liverpool have been interested in a deal to take unsettled Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Javier Pastore for the rest of the season, and also pursued Swedish international forward Ola Toivonen of PSV Eindhoven – though that now seems unlikely.
The return of Sturridge though – after skipper Steven Gerrard made his much-anticipated comeback on New Year’s Day – offers hope in the title race.
Rejuvenated midfielder Jordan Henderson, who has been a key figure in the Reds’ top four push this season, believes they can capitalise on their absence from Europe this season by challenging strongly at the top of the Premier League.
“It has given us extra rest and that may be one of the factors in our improved league form, because playing Thursday and another one at the weekend, mentally it can be tough and physically it’s demanding as well,” he explained.
“This season we’ve had quite a bit of time to recover and focus on the next game. All our efforts can go into the premier League and FA Cup now. Hopefully that can keep benefiting us and the other teams who are still in Europe can get even more tired more often.”
Mirror Sport

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