Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has told Daniel Sturridge that he must take full responsibility for his own fitness, after being left out of the starting XI for last weekend's Merseyside derby.
Sturridge was limited to a late 11-minute cameo in Saturday's 3-3 draw with Everton at Goodison Park after playing 90 minutes for England against Germany in midweek, but still made a telling contribution with a late equaliser.
Rodgers has shared his frustration at being forced to leave one his star strikers out of a crucial clash after he returned from England duty "clearly unfit", imploring the forward to find the right balance between club and country over a long campaign.
He told The Telegraph: "I am looking at him in training on Friday and he is not right. Whose responsibility is that? It is the association, the player. All I can do is look and assess who will give me absolutely everything when they go out on the field.
“We have a game against a massive rival away from home. I need everyone as close to 100 per cent as I possibly can. He is clearly not. A lot of players, especially the top ones, are never 100% fit.
“Daniel has been a match winner for us throughout his time here but I didn’t feel, because of that level of fitness, he was going to be that for us. I have seen it before. There is a trend.
"There are some games when he hasn’t played well and that has happened on the back of not training. With any player, you have to put yourself on the training field. If you do that, you will be in with a chance of playing.”
The 24-year-old's strike rate this season has been impressive, notching 12 goals in 14 appearances for the Reds in all competitions.
With Rodgers deciding that Sturridge was short of match sharpness Luis Suarez was deployed in a lone front role last weekend, supported by Philippe Coutinho, who chipped in with the opening goal.
Sturridge's predatory late effort from close range ensured that Liverpool went back across Stanley Park with a share of the spoils, despite conceding twice to Everton's Belgian powerhouse Romelu Lukaku.