Daniel Sturridge must start for Liverpool in Wednesday's FA Cup fourth round replay with Bolton Wanderers, according to John Aldridge.
The 25-year-old striker made his first appearance for the Reds since August 2014 when he came off the bench against West Ham United on Saturday, scoring within 12 minutes of his return to seal a 2-0 victory.
Strurridge's prolonged absence due to calf and thigh problems has seen manager Brendan Rodgers exercise caution in bringing the player back into his first team.
But with key clashes with Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Manchester City on the horizon, Aldridge believes the striker must start against Neil Lennon's side to ensure he is match fit for the coming weeks, suggesting Rodgers shares the same view.
"I would have Daniel Sturridge in from the start at Bolton," Aldridge told the Liverpool Echo.
"And I think Brendan Rodgers is on the same train of thought. Having been out for such a long time, Sturridge needs games to build up his fitness and sharpness.
"Mind you, he didn't look too bad when scoring on his return against West Ham United last Saturday.
"Psychologically, when Sturridge came off the bench, everything seemed to click. He gave such a lift to his teammates and also the crowd."
However, Aldridge has urged Liverpool fans not to expect too much from their returning striker, despite his emphatic return to the first team.
"Adrenaline gets you through the first few games, and it is after that the struggle to regain fitness really starts," he continued.
"In my day, you'd play in the A team or the reserves. Nowadays though, they only have training or behind-closed-doors games.
"That's not ideal. So it speaks volumes for how well Sturridge has done to seemingly hit the ground running on his return. He is still a fair few games away from being at his best, and Brendan Rodgers won't want to push him too much.
"But in his brief cameo, it was no coincidence his pace and movement really troubled the West Ham defence."
Liverpool's strikers have struggled this season but the club find themselves on a seven-match unbeaten run which has lifted them to within four points of the top four.