Sturridge can be as good as Hulk, says Villas-Boas
It is a comparison to make you feel, well, incredible. When Andre Villas-Boas was asked about how good Daniel Sturridge could become, he drew an analogy with his former Porto player, Hulk.
Getting compared to any Brazil striker is flattering enough but when it is to a player with a reputed €100m release clause that is serious praise.
"I am not sure how his career will evolve, he has natural ability to play on the right flank, he has the opportunity to offer me the characteristics I had with Hulk when I was at Porto," Villas-Boas said.
"He creates unpredictability. He has been performing well for the team. He is an extremely quick player, and he has technique at pace. You get plenty of pacy players, but what is important is that he arrives with the ball, he can control it and do something with it. That is what he offers."
Sturridge, 22, is fit again and ready to face Bolton, the club that has done so much to develop his qualities in the last year. He scored eight goals after joining Owen Coyle's team on loan in January and the way he took the opportunity convinced Villas-Boas that he was ready for Chelsea.
"It was important to his formation as a player, not because he did not have the same ability before he went there, but because he has evolved, like any player would when you have a confidence-boosting year at Bolton, where he was scoring goals week in and week out," said the manager.
"That's when we thought his qualities were up to the standard of a Chelsea squad and that's when we wanted him back."
His return to fitness is timely, as Villas-Boas is forced to reshuffle his attack in the absence of the suspended Fernando Torres, although the Chelsea manager was keen to stress that he sees Sturridge playing a different role to Torres in the front three.
"We have been using Daniel in a different position," he said. "Fernando has been playing in a striking position and we've been using Daniel on the right, coming inside.
"So, normally, they are not competing for the same position and I spoke with Daniel about it in the beginning when I brought him over. Daniel is extremely happy in that position as well. I think it favours his natural and technical abilities and his pace. So he is competing for right- and left-winger positions."
There is more than one manager Sturridge is hoping to impress. Fabio Capello is also an admirer and will be eager to see how he performs this afternoon.
He will name his England squad for Friday's international this evening and Sturridge could well be involved.
With Nicolas Anelka and Juan Mata in form and Didier Drogba returning to fitness, Villas-Boas has plenty of attacking options in the absence of Torres.
It does not look encouraging for Bolton. Aside from their troubled start, Bolton have a dreadful record against Chelsea, having not beaten them since 2003. In the last eight games at the Reebok Stadium, Chelsea have not only won but Bolton have failed even to score.
Nigel Reo-Coker, who joined Bolton in the summer, feels his new team-mates need to recover some of their old combative qualities, fostered under Sam Allardyce, if they are to recover from their poor start.
"We've conceded soft goals and that's not what Bolton is about," said the midfielder. "We've always been a difficult team to beat and we need to get back to that old-school mentality of being Bolton bully boys.
"We can show what we can do football-wise, and we've played some great football, but we need to mix it with that old-school roughness, show that hunger, desire and aggression."
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