Brendan Rodgers: Daniel Sturridge is fitter now than he has been over the last 18 months
Published 11/09/2015 | 14:51
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes striker Daniel Sturridge is the fittest he has been for 18 months, but will still handle him with caution.
The England striker, who spent most of the summer undergoing rehabilitation in the United States, returned to full training with the rest of the squad this week after recovering from a hip operation in May.
He will not be ready for Saturday's match against Manchester United at Old Trafford but his impending return will boost a goal-shy squad which has scored just two goals in four matches and none in their last two.
"There is no timeline as to when he will be fit to participate in the game but he is obviously back in training, which is good," said Rodgers.
"He looked really sharp in training, probably the best he's looked fitness-wise for 18 months, and it will be really good when he gets back.
"I can never say that (he is over the worst of his injuries) because I don't want to sit here and something happens in a couple of months' time.
"I can only look at what I see and from my experiences in the past I don't want to put any timeline on him coming back.
"I am grateful for the work done in America, for our own medical team who have done a brilliant job to do everything they possibly could to get Daniel back to a level of fitness.
"He has worked hard. He has joined in with the group and we will take it from there, day-by-day."
Liverpool go into Saturday's game having been humiliated 3-0 at home by West Ham before the international break which saw them concede their first goals of the season.
Having only scored twice in four matches - with those coming in the opening two games - the side are also struggling up front.
Last season they went to Old Trafford and enjoyed the majority of chances only to lose 3-0, but Rodgers is confident there will be no repeat of the shambolic defensive performance against the Hammers.
Dejan Lovren came in for most criticism as his mistake led to the crucial second goal but his manager has backed the Croatia international, who endured a tough start to his Liverpool career last season, to bounce back.
"Like all the players know we performed below our level in that game but it was a collective," added Rodgers.
"We can't isolate any performance on to one player. Dejan knows he made a mistake and you have to live with that as a player.
"We never stick the blame on to one player. We fell below the standards in that game.
"In his first three games he showed he has that quality and consistency to defend well, so the key is letting go of the mistake and showing your character."
Liverpool will be without suspended playmaker Philippe Coutinho on Saturday after his red card against West Ham, so striker Danny Ings or winger Jordon Ibe are in contention to start.