Daniel Sturridge vows to enjoy playing football upon his Liverpool return

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Daniel Sturridge has revealed how he has a new outlook on playing football professionally as he prepares to make his return from injury.

The Liverpool forward has been out of action since late August, however, was named on the bench for the encounter with West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.

Chelsea disappointment

Indeed, Sturridge claims he could have played in the Reds 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the semi-final of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday but ultimately Brendan Rodgers decided not to take the risk.

"I went to London with the team. I wanted to push myself and I wanted it so bad," he told ESPN.

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"It was the management who made the decision. I argued my case, but at the end of the day they made the best decision for us going forward, for the club, for myself. I can't be too upset with the decision they made."

A new outlook 

The England international spent the Christmas period in the United States seeing a specialist in a bid to find a long-lasting solution to his injury problems and now back in the frame for Liverpool, Sturridge claims he will try and enjoy playing football much more than he did prior to his recent spell on the sidelines.

"I am trying to savour it a bit more," he added. "I am very hard on myself the majority of the time and don't enjoy the highs as I should.

"I'd score, may play well and just think, 'OK, tick that off the list and on to the next', but you have to embrace the moment.

"Being out for so long has also made me realise how much I want to achieve and understand what I have to do to get there."

High expecations

When Sturridge does return, however, he faces a highly expectant Kop who believe he can turn around what has been a fairly dismal season for Liverpool in front of goal.

In his absence summer signings Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert have found themselves on the bench and young Raheem Sterling has been drafted up into the main striker role. But his lack of ruthlessness in front of goal has seen Liverpool fail to see off sides with the same disdain as last season when three or more goals per game was almost the norm.

Brendan Rodgers has already warned fans not to expect a goal rush when Sturridge makes his return, indeed most are wondering how the Northern Irishman will introduce his top striker into the 3-4-3 formation that Liverpool have used effectively in recent months.

But there's no doubting, with 24 goals last season, the lift he will bring to players and supporters alike could inspire the Reds if he stays fit for the rest of the season.

A role model

However, while Sturridge didn't comment on his expectations upon his return, he did talk about how he wants to become a role model for Liverpool's young players and help them learn from the mistakes he did while at Chelsea and Manchester City.

"As a young player I think it's important to have people who talk to you," he claimed. "I'm 25. I'm not old but I'm not a young, young player.

"It's easy to become complacent when you are earning decent money as a young player. It's important to understand that there is a lot to achieve and there is a long way to go before you are where you actually want to be."

"Devastated" over Gerrard decision

And Sturridge also hopes he can follow the example set by Steven Gerrard, admitting his own sadness upon hearing the news the 17-year veteran would be leaving the club at the end of the season.

"Words can't describe what he's done for Liverpool as well as his country," he said. "I'm devastated. I think he'll be at the club in some capacity very soon and I'm sure he'll manage the club one day."

Liverpool on road to success

Looking long-term, however, Sturridge believes the loss of Gerrard will not deter Liverpool from what he believes is the path to success.

"I'm looking forward to the future with the club. I'm looking forward to achieving something because we will achieve something.

"Mentally I know where I want to be, where I hope the club will be and where the management will want to be: we want to be the best."

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Premier League
Steven Gerrard
League Cup
Daniel Sturridge

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