Reports surfaced a few days ago that Daniel Sturridge was injured again while on international duty. Sturridge limped out of a training session with a thigh strain, making this the 4th time he has been injured while away with England in the last 3 years. Just let that sink in Liverpool fans.
Wondering why Roy Hodgson and the England training staff didn’t adopt Liverpool’s individualized training regime for Sturridge is pointless at this point. It’s water under the bridge.
While we do not know the severity of the injury yet, it is likely he will be unavailable for Liverpool’s next game Saturday vs Aston Villa.
Surely this is a big loss for the Reds, but it could have been a lot worse. Sturridge could have been hurt last season at this same point while Suarez was still serving one of his many bans.
This year, Liverpool have options in attack. Sturridge being injured is not the end of the world; Liverpool do not have to start Iago Aspas at striker.
Instead, Liverpool can call upon proven international players such as Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic or even Fabio Borini. Rodgers has the luxury of options this year and does not have to resort to plugging round pegs into square holes.
He can choose a direct replacement for Sturridge and keep their signature 442 diamond, and go with Lambert or Borini.
I can see Borini starting over Lambert; he is a more direct replacement because of his movement and pace. I cannot see Lambert starting up top with Mario Balotelli. That may be a dream front two for West Ham and Big Sam, but is most likely too cumbersome for a quick passing Liverpool side.
Borini rejected moves to both QPR and Sunderland, afraid of taking a step down in his career. His decision could immediately pay off. While he might not start the game, he very likely could play a part off the bench.
Rodgers also has the option of playing Lazar Markovic or Adam Lallana in place of Sturridge. This would most likely switch Liverpool’s formation to a 433, with either Markovic or Lallana joining the undroppable Raheem Sterling on the wing.
Markovic had an impressive cameo against Manchester City and would help add the lightening pace Liverpool lose without Sturridge. Having Sterling and Markovic out wide would mean Liverpool fielding 2 of the fastest players in the league.
Adam Lallana can also come into the side as well, having missed some time already due to a knee injury. One might fear that he would have a lack of match sharpness, but he did score in a closed door friendly match during the international break.
I haven’t even mentioned the player Rodgers refers to as the “brains of the team”, Philippe Coutinho. After serving as an unused substitute in Liverpool’s last game vs Tottenham, he got his his second cap for Brazil during the international break.
Coutinho deals with consistency issues, but on his day he can play with anybody in the league. Neymar, newly appointed captain of Brazil, sure seems to see Coutinho’s quality and views him as an integral part of the future of Brazil.
With Sturridge out injured, it is not all doom and gloom. Unlike recent past years, Liverpool has exciting options to call upon. Instead of mourning Sturridge’s absence, Liverpool fans should be excited to see who will get a chance to step up.
Who knows, with all of Liverpool’s options in attack this year, Sturridge might even have to fight to get back in the squad once he is fit.