Brendan Rodgers admits that Liverpool are carefully monitoring Daniel Sturridge's fitness - however believes the striker could not feature again this season.
Sturridge's campaign has been riddled with injuries throughout and the former Chelsea man has made just 12 Premier League appearances all term.
The 25-year-old missed five months of the season with a thigh injury he picked up on international duty for England in September and most recently picked up a fresh hip injury and hasn't featured since the Reds beat Blackburn 1-0 in the FA Cup on April 8.
Sturridge spent the Christmas period working with medical staff at MLS side Boston Red Soxs in hope of reviving his season, however, the rehabilitation treatment has not helped.
And Rodgers stresses the importance of Sturridge regaining full fitness before he pulls on a Red shirt once again, which could be during the pre-season.
"It has been difficult for Daniel, of course," the Liverpool manager told the club's official website.
"Daniel is a good lad who obviously wants to play, wants to be working and helping the team.
"But it has just been one of those seasons for him where he has been very unfortunate and has just missed out. We're just going to have to monitor that day by day and see where he's at.
"When he's been fit he's been brilliant for the team, the key now is to see if we can get him back fit and consistently playing. We'll see if that's going to be this season or the pre-season.
"We'll do what's in the best interests of him; we have to protect Daniel and make sure he's going to be here over the next number of years, playing and playing to the level that we all know he can."
Not Enough Goals
In Sturridge's absence, nobody has over the responsibility of scoring goals.
With the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona last summer and the injuries to Sturridge, who grabbed a combined 52 goals in the league last term, Liverpool have been distinctly lackluster in-front of goal and tallied up just 47 strikes in the top-flight this season.
Mario Balotelli has typically under-performed at the club, mirroring his controversy-riddled career and has managed just four goals at Anfield in all competitions. The Italian was purchased as a panic buy to replace Suarez, however, every Kopite knew that Balotelli was not the answer.
Reflecting on Sturridge's record, his career has been injury-struck each season and has failed to complete a full term without being side-lined.
This is something every football fan is aware of and the reason why Chelsea sold the Birmingham native for just £12 million in January 2013.
With the sale of Suarez, Rodgers failed to replace the Uruguayian and draft in another world class striker who could lead the Liverpool front-line. Instead, the Northern Irishman expected Sturridge to become his main striker and surpass his 21 goal tally he notched last season.
This was a naive tactic employed by the former Swansea City manager and one that has had its repercussions. With the long-term injuries to Sturridge and the failure of Balotelli, Rodgers has been forced to play Raheem Sterling up-top for most of the year and, although the 20-year-old hasn't done too badly, he is not a true goalscorer.
It seems that a new striker this summer will be top of Rodgers' transfer priorities. He will look to recoup cash from the sales of Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert, who have both rarely featured this term, and attempt to lure one of Europe's top forwards to Anfield.
Memphis Depay has reportedly already met with Liverpool over a possible transfer, however, he's attracted Europe's elite club's such as Manchester United and PSG who are also chasing the Dutchman's signature.
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