London – Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says the club must not “break” Daniel Sturridge although the striker could feature against former club Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday despite concerns over his fitness.
Sturridge, who began his career at City, was sidelined for five months at the beginning of the season with calf and thigh injuries and then suffered a series of setbacks in his bid to recover.
The England international, who has a history of breaking down with injury, scored on his comeback against West Ham United at the end of January and his return to the side coincided with a seven-match unbeaten run during which Liverpool won six games.
The sequence came to an end with a penalty shootout defeat to Turkish team Besiktas on Thursday as Rodgers’ team crashed out in the last 32 of the Europa League.
Sturridge was replaced in extra time, sparking worries that he might have sustained another injury, but Rodgers explained that he must use him sparingly.
“Daniel had given everything,” Rodgers told a news conference on Saturday. “This is a player coming back from five months out injured.
“We have to be really, really careful he doesn’t break. Daniel’s history shows that.
“There has been very little training in between games. He had no more left in his legs and we needed to take him off to prevent him getting an injury when he was very tired.”
Rodgers said Liverpool would recall Philippe Coutinho, who missed the visit to Turkey, for the visit of second-placed City and that fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson may need a late fitness test.
The Liverpool boss warned his sixth-placed team might suffer after having only two days to recover from their trip.
“You don’t need to be a sports scientist to work out that if you arrive back at 04:30 on Friday morning and have a game early on Sunday then physically there’s going to be a cost,” Rodgers explained.
“But if you look at where the team is at there is no psychological damage from the other night. You can’t dwell on it.
“The players gave everything over the two games. It is a different competition (on Sunday). We will move on and hopefully finish the season strongly.”
FOLLOW NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS ON FACEBOOK @ New Africa Business News.com