Sturridge absence will stretch into next season
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge will miss the start of next season after being ruled out for four months following hip surgery.
The Merseyside club are resigned to losing the England centre-forward for the whole of pre-season, with a likely return to training scheduled for September. That means it could be even longer before he is considered fit for a first team recall.
It is the latest in a series of setbacks for the 25-year-old, who has spent most of the season receiving treatment for a succession of thigh and groin strains. A hip problem ruled him out of the FA Cup semi-final.
Liverpool are privately hoping the latest surgery will rid Sturridge of his injury issues, with indications that the hip problem may have caused previous setbacks.
Sturridge was initially injured while on international duty last September, which prompted criticism of England manager Roy Hodgson. With the club now accepting that the player had long-term, existing issues that could have flared up at any time, that public criticism of Hodgson now looks ill-advised eight months on.
The operation Sturridge has undergone in New York has been described as a "success" but it will renew focus on how Brendan Rodgers's side will line up in August.
The main focus over the next few months will be on signing two new strikers. Barring any last-minute hitch, Burnley's Danny Ings will be one of the additions when his contract ends in July, and Divock Origi will join for £10m in a deal reached with Lille last summer.
But with Rickie Lambert, Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini aware they can leave for the right offer, another top-class centre-forward is essential.
Memphis Depay's decision to join Manchester United despite interest from Liverpool has prompted criticism of the club that they are incapable of going toe-to-toe with their top-four rivals for the most coveted European talent.
It is not only up front where there is a void to fill, with captain Steven Gerrard preparing for his final games for the club.
However, he has indicated his wish to return in some capacity at a later date. Liverpool will consider a loan next January, and further ahead a coaching position should not be ruled out (©Daily Telegraph, London)