Daniel Sturridge should be kept on the bench and maybe used as an impact substitute when Liverpool face long-term rivals Manchester United this weekend, according to former Reds star Dietmar Hamann.
The German, who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, spoke frankly about how Brendan Rodgers should set up his attack and doesn’t believe the Northern Irishman should stick with the same man as in the last three games.
Sturridge has led the line in the final third since March 1 - where he appeared as a second-half substitute against Manchester City - and looks well on the road to full recovery after struggling with injuries earlier on in the season.
Hamann on dropping Sturridge
However Hamann, speaking to the Liverpool Echo, has offered his opinion that rather than relying on Sturridge against Louis van Gaal’s in-form United, Rodgers might well be better served changing tact and opting for Raheem Sterling.
"I would not be surprised to see Sterling play up top, with Sturridge on the bench," Hamann said.
"I don't think Daniel is quite at 100 per cent yet so I think it would be good to have him as a real weapon on the bench for the last half-hour and let Sterling stretch the United defence to start with.
"If you think back to the game at Old Trafford, that was the first time we really saw Sterling used as a striker and, though we lost the game, we created more chances than we had all season, really, and he made a big difference.
"I think he's played that role beautifully since. It changes everything when you have that pace up front because you can stretch the game. We lacked that in the first part of the season when Mario Balotelli or Rickie Lambert were playing up there but we've had it since that Old Trafford game.
"It would be a big call to leave Sturridge out but I just think Sterling may be the way to go."
Of all the players affected by the departure of Luis Suarez Sturridge seems to have recorded the biggest drop in form. The injuries that have plagued him this term have hardly helped the situation, but one gets the feeling adapting his game without the presence of the Uruguayan alongside him is proving quite the task.
In ten Premier League appearances this season Sturridge has found the net just three times, paling in comparison to the 21 goals he bagged himself during Liverpool’s impressive run to second place last during 2013/14. Such stats reinforce the theory that he’s a man searching to re-find his form, though with his fitness gradually improving goals should follow in a similar suit.
Rodgers will certainly hope so anyway, given how poor Mario Balotelli has been and how little impact Rickie Lambert has made. A result of the duo’s ineffectiveness has been that Sterling has found himself the de facto forward during times of need, a role that he’s taken to with a fair degree of aplomb.
The diminutive youngster looks extremely comfortable when playing off the last man, and his pace and trickery makes him a thorn in the side of even the most experienced defenders. United have a back-line ripe for the picking due to a lack of a natural leader, and their frailties at the back may well be better suited for Sterling to take advantage of than Sturridge.
Liverpool fans, who would you start against United this weekend? Let us know what you think in the comments box below...