Sunday 4 December 2016

Owen fears for long-term future of Sturridge as injury strikes again

Published 16/01/2016 | 02:30

'Daniel Sturridge has started just one match since the appointment of Jurgen Klopp' Photo: PA
'Daniel Sturridge has started just one match since the appointment of Jurgen Klopp' Photo: PA

Michael Owen fears for the long-term future of Daniel Sturridge after the succession of injuries that has halted the progress of the Liverpool striker, and thinks his former club face a dilemma about how to handle the next move.

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Owen has painful memories of how a run of injuries eventually takes its toll on the body and says the fact that Sturridge has been struck down by muscle problems means it will be difficult for the front-man to regain peak fitness.

The 26-year-old's last outing came at Newcastle in December and he has started just one match since the appointment of Jurgen Klopp. His latest ailment is a hamstring problem, while last season he was affected by problems with his thigh and calf before travelling to America for treatment on a hip complaint.

His new manager has suggested that Sturridge is unable to grasp the difference between serious pain and minor pain and that has led to speculation that Liverpool are ready to sell the player.

But Owen, now working as a pundit with BT Sport, feels that prospective suitors will be extremely worried by his track record.

The England international has made just 60 Premier League appearances since joining from Chelsea three years ago; the flip side of the equation is that he scored 37 times.

"I didn't feel like I was as injury-plagued as Daniel has been," says Owen. "It's just a very hard situation, it's so sad. I've been there before with muscle injuries and I would always say 'I'm coming back stronger from injury' but you never do.

"With muscle injuries, they can be repaired but there's less elasticity and it's just a case that the more injuries you get, the weaker you get. He's been to America as well, and you don't come back and all of a sudden you're much stronger and better and fitter.

"It's just a hard situation because even if Klopp didn't want him and wanted to sell him then, as much as nobody is debating his talent, who would take him? Where could he go?

"I'm sure lots of clubs would love to have him and take a chance but who is going to pay the massive money that he would command with wages and signing on fees when you're not sure? Liverpool need to get him fit before he can become a valuable asset."

Owen believes that getting to the bottom of his problems in the striking department are the key for Klopp as he looks to make progress with his new employers.

He has voiced his concerns about the suitability of Christian Benteke for prominent billing at Anfield, although Roberto Firmino's midweek brace against Arsenal was a pleasant surprise following his underwhelming start in England since his summer move.

Confident

"His results aren't much different to Brendan Rodgers," Owen says. "But the general feeling among players and fans is that everyone is confident that given time he will turn it around. I think he's still playing about with his team and give him a transfer window or two, you might see more of his team out there.

"A lot of people thought there'd be a magic wand but it's not that easy. I still think he's a very good manager, very popular and he will get it right. He will look to improve the forward area, with Sturridge struggling to get fit.

"All the best performances have come without Benteke. I like him as a player, he's a top class player but I'm not sure he's a Liverpool player, just like Andy Carroll wasn't one either.

"What Liverpool need is a player that can press hard and work hard and provide the complete package; Benteke scores some exceptional goals, some remarkable goals but I just don't think he's an all-round player."

Irish Independent

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