Despite question marks about his belief in Daniel Sturridge this season, Jurgen Klopp handed the England striker a place in the starting line-up for Liverpool's crunch clash against Chelsea on Friday night.
However, despite a solid enough display, Sturridge didn't see out the game and was - to some people's surprise - substituted relatively early in Liverpool's impressive 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
Having been in a rather heated discussion with Klopp not long before being replaced by Divock Origi in the 57th minute, the German manager's decision was always going to be followed by speculation. Speaking in the aftermath of Liverpool's win, however, Klopp has now explained exactly why he took Sturridge off when he did.
Rather than any conspiracy against the striker, or as punishment for a mid-game discretion, the decision appears to have been solely a tactical one.
"I couldn’t see that he could sprint any more. That is why I changed it,” Klopp said, via NBC Sports. "We had a healthy, young striker on the bench, that is all.
"First half was really good from Daniel. In the second half, we need this player there in the center we can play with and if there is a ball in-behind sometimes then he can go there and we can push up the last line…
"I don’t think it is an injury, it is only the situation. Nobody told me about an injury. All is good."
As speculated upon by NBC, Sturridge and Klopp had looked to be involved in a disagreement over which position the forward was supposed to be taking up in the minutes leading up to his departure. look to have been involved
The fact the 28-year-old then walked straight down the tunnel into the changing room after being replaced by Origi only added to the intrigue.
According to Klopp, though, there was nothing to concern Liverpool fans moving forward - in terms of tension between himself and Sturridge, or an injury issue with the striker.
Regardless, the fact that Klopp had identified the Englishman had run out of steam before the hour mark isn't exactly a glowing reference.
With the likes of Jamie Carragher already speculating that Sturridge simply isn't a fit for the German's system, it could well be another sign that the former Chelsea and Manchester City man's future may lie elsewhere.
We will have to wait and see how things pan out for Liverpool and Sturridge. However, if the England international does want to convince his manager he can lead the line at Anfield week in, week out he might have to improve his fitness first.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms