Sturridge set to miss crucial festive period after suffering ankle injury
Liverpool fear that Daniel Sturridge faces a lengthy absence after suffering possible ligament damage to his left ankle in training.
Sturridge left the club’s training ground, Melwood, on crutches on Friday afternoon as manager Brendan Rodgers finalised his plans for Sunday’s trip to Hull City.
The England striker was sent for a scan and was still awaiting the full results of that assessment last night, but if it is ligament damage he could be out for a minimum of six weeks.
That would rule Sturridge out of the hectic festive period at least, representing a serious blow to Liverpool’s pursuit of a Champions League place. After Hull, they face West Ham United and Norwich City, and then have demanding fixtures, including games at Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Sturridge was already suffering with a thigh problem which prevented him from starting the Merseyside derby last weekend, when he came off the bench to secure a point in a 3-3 draw.
He has scored 11 goals this season, helping to elevate Liverpool into second place.
Sturridge damaged ligaments in his right ankle playing for England in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland last June. He was able to return for the start of the season after two months of rehabilitation.
Rodgers will be forced to change formation should he be without the England striker, with the onus back on Luis Suárez to lead the attack alone.
Despite the setback, the Liverpool manager is sure his squad are equipped to go the distance for the rest of the season although he would still welcome additions in the new year. “Last year the couple of players we got in January was great and gave us a great boost. It would be brilliant if we could do that again, but it’s about what’s available and affordable,” said Rodgers.
“I would love to have that boost because that injection of quality can set you up for the second half of the season. If something comes up to make us better, we will do that, but we do not want to be just adding to the squad. It has to be someone who comes in to make us better.
“If that becomes a possibility, the owners have shown they will support that.”
Rodgers acknowledges his side face a tough period, but he said: “I would expect us to last the pace. There is no question of that. We have the determination to do that.
“There is no question we have difficult games. We have two games over the Christmas period against City and Chelsea – the two biggest squads in the league – and that will give them an advantage. They are all testing games, but we’ve had testing games in the first 12 games.
“Mentally we are strong. I compare the mentality of the team that first day I was in charge at West Bromwich Albion and now. It’s night and day difference.”
Jon Flanagan will continue at left-back against Hull, being preferred to the out-of-favour Aly Cissokho.
“I have seen enough of Jon now over the last year or so that I have been here,” said Rodgers.
“I have a huge amount of respect for him and that was the reason I put him in.”