Liverpool have enjoyed a fine start to the 2013/14 campaign, with two largely comfortable 1-0 victories over capable opposition achieved as a result of consecutive strikes from England striker Daniel Sturridge. The former Manchester City and Chelsea prospect has looked in formidable form so far this term, with his sublime effort against Aston Villa demonstrating both considerable talent and commendable composure.
This outstanding run is a continuation of Sturridge's exploits last season, when the 23-year-old wowed Reds supporters with 11 goals in 16 games after arriving at the club from Stamford Bridge during the January transfer window. The absence of unsettled star striker Luis Suarez, who is currently serving a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic at Anfield last season, had the potential to significantly disrupt Brendan Rodgers' plans for the early stages of the new season, but Sturridge's admirable performances have certainly filled any void left by the controversial Uruguayan.
Having proved his undeniable worth at club level, Sturridge's next task is to establish himself as a credible force on the international stage. With England potentially heading into a new and uncertain era following the gradual disintegration of the so-called 'Golden Generation', young talents such as Sturridge will surely be relied upon to play starring roles for the country moving forward.
In fact, with the current dearth of strikers available for selection by Roy Hodgson, Sturridge is already a crucial member of the squad ahead of crucial 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Moldova at Wembley and Ukraine in Kiev. With Manchester United's Wayne Rooney often deployed in a slightly deeper role, Sturridge is likely to be relied upon to spearhead the attack.
Will Sturridge be able to fulfil such a pressured and ultimately demanding role? Recent performances would suggest he is fully capable of doing just that. Sturridge combines impressive technical ability and undeniable potency with speed that makes him an absolute menace for opposition defenders.
While there is little doubt about his ability, questions marks have often surrounded Sturridge's attitude in recent years. While some have somewhat unfairly branded him as lazy and arrogant, he appears to have finally shaken off such unpleasant jibes with evident energy and commitment that has led to lavish praise from Rodgers.
Indeed, his tireless efforts to ensure he was fully fit for the new top-flight campaign after suffering a serious ankle duty on international duty in May provide obvious evidence that this is a player serious about getting crucial experience, fulfilling his huge potential and proving his immediate worth to both club and country.
A long list of previous disappointments suggest Three Lions supporters should obviously stop well short of hailing Sturridge as some sort of great English hope. But if he continues to apply himself correctly and steers clear of the injury problems that have troubled him somewhat in recent times, then the Liverpool striker's sheer ability suggests will have a leading role to play within the England setup for years to come.