Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been impressed by Daniel Sturridge’s pre-season and is prepared to give the striker another chance.
Last summer the Reds were ready to offload the 28-year-old to anyone willing to stump up £20million as his poor injury record had made him unreliable and largely unusable.
Sturridge went to West Brom on loan in January but was injured early on and managed just six appearances.
With 12 months left on his contract it seemed Sturridge’s Anfield career was over but he has looked sharp in his five friendly games and Klopp, who became frustrated by the player’s unavailability last season, is prepared to hand him a lifeline.
“We’re not in doubt – and nobody was ever in doubt – about his quality,” he told liverpoolfc.com.
“In this moment he looks really good to be honest. That’s cool – really cool for him and cool for us.
“(It’s) a very important moment for him. I am in talks with him, what he feels.
“I don’t want to make him the most physically strong player in the squad or whatever.
“The most physically strong player in the squad cannot play football like Daniel Sturridge and he has no possibility to be that, to be the marathon man of the team, but he can be a very decisive player.
“It’s a good moment and hopefully it will stay like that.”
Sturridge could be in line to start the Premier League campaign at home to West Ham in just over a fortnight’s time with Roberto Firmino – along with new goalkeeper and fellow Brazil international Alisson – only rejoining the squad at next week’s training camp in France.
The extended break for Croatia’s World Cup runner-up Dejan Lovren means there is an opening in central defence alongside Virgil van Dijk against the Hammers and Joel Matip’s early return from the United States because of injury puts Joe Gomez in pole position.
Gomez missed the end of the season after ankle surgery but has struck up a good relationship with Van Dijk and that could get him the nod over Ragnar Klavan.
“He is a good guy, he was skipper at Southampton and is for Holland, and his presence is felt within the camp,” said Gomez on his Dutch team-mate.
“It’s a pleasure to play alongside him. Hopefully I can keep learning from him and keep progressing.
“We get on well off the pitch – he’s like my big brother. It’s a pleasure to play with him and it’s about learning from him.
“He is experienced, and I’ve got time to grow into that position (centre-back).
“I enjoy playing there; hopefully we can build and keep progressing together.
“It’s about progressing during the summer and there are still a lot of games to go in pre-season, so that has to be the focus for me now.”