Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has expressed his delight at making his first appearance for the club since sustaining an ankle injury in May.
23-year-old Sturridge, an England international who arrived at Anfield from Premier League rivals Chelsea in January, made his pre-season bow on Saturday, completing 45 minutes of the Reds' 1-0 defeat to Celtic in Dublin.
"I'm delighted to be back," Sturridge told LFC TV.
"I want to say thanks to the physio, Matt [Konopinski], and the fitness coach, Jordan [Milsom], for all the hard work they've done with me."
Sturridge sustained the aforementioned injury during the first half of England's 1-1 draw against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley in May. And despite having only featured in one game so far this summer, the former Manchester City frontman insists he is ready for the start of the new season.
"It's been a long road - a bumpy one at that - but I'm delighted to be back out there and I'm thankful to God for healing my injury so quickly because I wasn't sure I'd be back for the start of the season.
"I'm fit and good to go. If I'm selected against Stoke then I'll be ready. I didn't think I'd be as sharp as I was, to be honest, so I'm happy. I would have loved to have scored and marked my return with a goal, but the important thing was to leave the pitch healthy with no injury or anything."
Sturridge's return to fitness is a timely boost for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, with the surely imminent departure of unsettled Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez set to leave him short of quality attacking options as the club look to mount a serious attempt to secure a top four spot.
The defeat in Dublin was Liverpool's last friendly before they begin their 2013/14 Premier League campaign with a home fixture against Mark Hughes' Stoke City on Saturday.
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