Mike Egerton
Nearly there

Daniel Sturridge in 'final stages' of rehab (but don't expect to see him this weekend)

Liverpool travel to Sunderland in the Premier League tomorrow.

BRENDAN RODGERS HAS no intention of gambling on the fitness of Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge at Sunderland on Saturday.

Sturridge spent the Christmas and New Year period in the United States continuing treatment on a troublesome calf injury that has sidelined him since the end of August.

But he is scheduled to fly back to the UK today and should resume training this weekend.

With Liverpool having struggled for much of Sturridge’s absence, Rodgers may have been tempted to put the England international straight back into his squad.

But the Reds boss will take a cautious approach and instead hopes to have Sturridge, who has scored 32 league goals in 40 career starts for his club, back in his line-up before the end of the month.

“He will be back in the country in the next 24 hours to go into final stages of his rehab,” Rodgers said.

“The work he has done in America has been fantastic, specialising in the rehabilitation and he will now come back — hopefully in some part of January.

He is a top class player with a wonderful idea of the game and wonderful qualities. His pace is frightening and his movement.

“As a footballer he is at a great age and if he can stay fit he can lead the charge for us.

“It is difficult to focus on a date, we just need to assess. We’ve been monitoring his situation and he looks in a good moment.”

Rodgers was less forthcoming over the latest reports of his supposed strained relationship with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard has confirmed he will leave at the end of the season, but the midfielder says he would have stayed at Anfield had he been offered a new deal last year — a claim to which Rodgers would not respond.

“There is nothing more to add,” said Rodgers. “Everything has been said on that situation that needs to be said. Steven spoke openly and honestly on it.

“He elaborated, he is happy where he is at and where he is going, done all the interviews.

“There is no doubt Steven is still a top class player and has been that world class player for many years and him moving on leaves a void on and off the pitch.

“But the club has to keep moving forward to bring the best players we can to this wonderful football club. It’s an opportunity for other players to grab the mantra.”

- © AFP, 2014

Originally published at 08.17

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