Daniel Sturridge returned to full training for Liverpool on Thursday as he continued his rehabilitation from his hip surgery in May. However, those Reds fans who believe Sturridge is the man to propel them to glory this season need to think again.
The striker hasn't played since 8 April in Liverpool's FA Cup sixth round victory over Blackburn and has spent the majority of the summer in the USA receiving specialist treatment. The 26-year old was only able to make 12 league appearances last term with long term injuries to both his thigh and his calf.
With pictures and videos circulating on social media on Sturridge's return to training on Thursday, Liverpool fans were naturally excited and some believed that he would be fit to face Manchester United on Saturday.
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Realistically though, Sturridge will take a long time to get back to his best and shouldn't be relied upon. I'm not talking for the next few weeks, I'm talking for the rest of the season.
We'd all love to see the 2013/14 Sturridge when he scored 21 goals in 29 league games but that simply isn't going to happen. It takes time for an explosive player like him to come back from a long-term injury.
Sturridge thrives on his pace and his sharpness to get the best from defenders. Those attributes can only be utilised by those at their optimum match fitness levels. Yes, Sturridge may be already fit, he's been working hard for months, but nothing can compare to match fitness, especially the pace of Premier League football.
If too much pressure on put on Sturridge to perform wonders again then he is likely to breakdown and get injured once again. That may sound strange, but it's true.
If he's able to be eased back gently into action, without the pressure and expectation for him to perform immediately, then he can gain confidence slowly and will soon enough regain his sharpness.
I feel it's best to use the upcoming Europa League matches to get Sturridge's match fitness levels back up before we introduce him to Premier League football.
People's expectations and hopes for Sturridge this year might be 15 or 20 goals, but the most important thing is that he stays injury free. If he can do that and feature for England at the European Championships then we might just see the 2013/14 Daniel Sturridge next season.
But to place too much expectation on him this campaign would be unfair and wouldn't help him recover from his injury.
Hopefully though, we'll soon be seeing the Sturridge dance back at Anfield.
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