Liverpool legend David Fairclough has warned Daniel Sturridge that he cannot expect to walk back into the Reds' first team when he eventually returns from injury, reports the Daily Mail.
The England forward has been out-of-action since April with a recurring hip injury and featured just 12 times last season, much to Liverpool fans' frustration.
And while Sturridge remains arguably Brendan Rodgers' most clinical option upfront, even despite the summer acquisition of Christian Benteke, Fairclough has insisted that the 26-year-old must expect to work his way back into the frame.
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"He can't take anything for granted and think that he's just going to walk in and be the main man again - he's got competition now," said Fairclough at Soccerex.
"Hopefully that goes a way to helping Daniel Sturridge be the player that he can be.
"I think he took his foot off the gas a little bit last season, I know he had injury problems but I don't think he really got up to full pelt, full speed, so I'd like to see him get a full base of fitness so he can show us the player that he is."
Sturridge enjoyed his best form on Merseyside when partnered with departed-star Luis Suarez in the 2013/14 campaign, during which Liverpool fell just short of winning the Premier League title, and has failed to replicate such form since, owed largely to injuries.
Since then, Rodgers has sought for cover in the absence of the England international in the aforementioned Benteke, who has already opened his competitive account with Liverpool, scoring in the club's 1-0 win over Bournemouth, alongside Brazilian star Roberto Firmino and Danny Ings.
Rodgers' urge to bring in reinforcements cements Fairclough's view that Sturridge faces stern competition upon his return, though the former Reds striker believes that the pacey forward could thrive upon a potential partnership with his new Belgian team-mate.
"Sturridge will benefit from having someone like Benteke alongside him," he said.
"Benteke is happy to play with his back towards defenders, Sturridge is probably a little bit more comfortable coming off defenders and picking up wider positions.
"That's maybe where he benefited from [Luis] Suarez really - Suarez was the main man so I think with Benteke, Sturridge should flourish."
The return of Sturridge is something that Rodgers will undoubtedly be looking forward to, even despite the choices he'll have to make with regards to how he can incorporate his injury-plagued frontman.
Regardless, though, the England forward remains one of the Premier League's most clinical finishers and the Reds will fare far better with him involved in their set up than without him.
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