Liverpool have been without Daniel Sturridge for their last two games against Aston Villa and Ludogorets. The 25-year-old suffered a thigh strain whilst on international duty with England earlier this month.
On Wednesday, the striker tweeted: “Pushing myself to my limit right now for real. Closer to fitness each day!!”
He is certainly eager to be fit and playing again and has cut a frustrated figure sat in the crowd at Anfield, watching on as his teammates have struggled to break down both of those aforementioned sides.
It was always going to be a testing start to this season for the Reds. The loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona ensured that, but the injury to the other half of last season’s prolific partnership has made it especially challenging.
Sturridge scored 36 goals in his first 50 games for Liverpool - the best record in the history of the club - and they are clearly missing the pace and penetration he can provide.
In the past two matches they have had far more possession than their opponents, but often looked devoid of ideas in the final third. Sturridge will look to run in behind defences and always try to work the space for a shot at goal when he receives the ball. That extra goalscoring threat has been missed.
In addition to his individual attributes, Sturridge’s link-up play with Raheem Sterling provides a great weapon for the Reds. They have had time to build an understanding and given the pace and quality they both possess, they can make Liverpool very difficult for opposition defences to live with.
Fast interplay and counter-attacks were vital last season, when Liverpool frequently blew teams away within the first half an hour.
That has not happened so far this term, but when Sturridge returns, and if Sterling continues to develop, expect it to be a familiar characteristic once again.