The fitness of Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge must be managed throughout the season to prevent the England international from spending another lengthy spell out injured. He marked his second start following five months out after hip surgery with a double to defeat Aston Villa, ending a run of six games without a win in 90 minutes.
Sturridge's return to fitness and form comes on the eve of the Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park but the 26-year-old's history with injuries, which saw him make just seven Premier League starts last term, means he is a fragile figure. The former Chelsea and Manchester City forward is expected to be included in the England squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifying matches against Estonia and Lithuania but there are concerns over his workload.
Brendan Rodgers's selection dilemma both for the Europa League trip to FC Sion and the clash with Everton is accentuated by an injury to Christian Benteke, who missed the win over Villa with a hamstring problem. Danny Ings could lead the line in Europe but former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann has expressed concerns over the demands being imposed on Sturridge.
"It's no good doing it for a couple of weeks and then being out again, because then the whole team has to change again," he told the Liverpool Echo. "He has to show he can stay fit, and hopefully he will. It's massive to have him available. Obviously he missed a lot of games, so we need to keep him fit – especially if Christian Benteke is going to be out.
"If you've got somebody with pace who can stretch defences and score goals, then it's a massive plus as we saw on Saturday [Liverpool beating Aston Villa 3-2]. It brings the level of other players up as well. I do think that this is why you shouldn't be too harsh on some of the players who came last year, because they were pretty much playing the season without a centre forward. For now, they have that centre forward. But they need him consistently, not just for five or six games."