Daniel Sturridge has proved his quality with immediate return to form

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Daniel Sturridge provided more evidence to back up the claim that he is now Liverpool's most important player following another goalscoring contribution in Saturday's 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.

The fit-again striker sparked a second-half fightback at Selhurst Park by netting the equaliser soon after the restart, as the seven-time winners came from behind to book their place in the quarter-finals and strengthen their chances of a trophy success in 2015.

Adam Lallana grabbed the all-important winner to see off the challenge of Alan Pardew's side, but it was the presence of leading talisman Sturridge that gives the Reds most reason for optimism between now and the end of the campaign after another inspired performance in south east London.

His excellent left-footed volley to convert Jordan Henderson's chipped pass epitomised the type of predatory instinct that Liverpool have been lacking in attack for a large portion of the campaign, but with the lethal marksman back in the fray Brendan Rodgers's side will be a match for anyone they face.

"Daniel coming back has given us a big boost," confirmed the Reds boss after the weekend encounter. "You can see his qualities - his speed, his touch and he doesn't need too many chances to score. The team is functioning at a high level."

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Liverpool have won four of the five games they've played in all competitions since Sturridge's return, highlighting just how instrumental the 25-year-old has been since moving to Anfield from Chelsea in a £12 million deal in January 2013.

His significance has been heightened even further following the departure of former strike partner Luis Suarez to Barcelona last summer, so it was an even bigger blow when Sturridge picked up a thigh injury whilst on international duty with England back in September.

After a series of setbacks - and a separate calf strain - the Three Lions star ended up being sidelined for a total of five months before finally returning in the 2-0 victory over West Ham United in January.

Sturridge came off the bench to secure all three points for Liverpool with a well-taken goal within minutes of his introduction, announcing himself to the Kop.

Fans are now growing increasingly optimistic of finishing 2014/15 with a flourish after an impressive return to form which has seen the team lose only two of their last 22 games since going down 3-1 the last time they played the Eagles away from home in the league back in November.

"The players' response has been magnificent," - Brendan Rodgers

"Since that loss the players' response has been magnificent and the character shown incredible," enthused Rodgers. "It wasn't a good feeling the last time we were at Selhurst Park. We were at a real low point with players trying to adapt to the expectations that had been put on them.

"We had key players out so we had to get them playing with the intensity we have had over the last two years. That loss was a real adverse moment for us and from that the team has got better."

Currently lying in seventh place in the Premier League table with 42 points from 25 games, Liverpool have not given up hope of qualifying for the Champions League via a top four finish.

The Merseyside club are four points adrift of high-flying Southampton, and also have north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur separating them from that all-important European spot, but on current form you'd be a fool to write Rodgers's side off, especially now Sturridge is back fit and firing.

He is without doubt the most prolific English goalscorer in the top-flight, and as long as Liverpool can keep him injury free then there is no reason why they cannot continue to climb the table and achieve all of the targets set out by Rodgers at the start of 2015.

A two-legged Europa League clash against Turkish giants Besiktas will determine whether or not the Reds advance to the last 16 of that competition, but there best chance of silverware this season surely now lies in the FA Cup.

The Wembley final will be played on Steven Gerrard's 35th birthday in May, and would be a fitting send-off for the inspirational skipper who is set to leave Anfield upon the expiry of his contract in the summer.

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Premier League
FA Cup
Daniel Sturridge
Brendan Rodgers

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