Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is the fittest he has been for 18 months after resuming first-team training but is not ready to return against Manchester United, according to manager Brendan Rodgers. The England international has not played since April after undergoing surgery on a hip problem, the latest in a long line of injury problems.
After continuing his rehabilitation away from the main group, Sturridge re-joined first team training earlier in September in an effort to ramp up his recovery. However, the 26-year-old will not be available for the visit to United and Rodgers is not yet certain when he will be fit to return, while both Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana are also doubtful.
"Sturridge returned to training but there is no timeline on when he will play in games," he told a pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to United, according to the Liverpool Echo. "We'll see about Henderson and Lallana over the next 24 hours. Our tally of goals will increase as the season goes on. Daniel will help with that. He looks really sharp in training, the fittest he's looked for 18 months."
The weekend meeting at Old Trafford sees United and Liverpool looking to bounce back from harrowing defeats prior to the international break. While Louis van Gaal's side were defeated by Swansea City, Rodgers's team were thumped by West Ham United, making the visit of their arch rivals as important as ever.
"This is the biggest derby game in the history of the league, winning a game like this can give you a psychological boost," the Liverpool boss added. "This game comes on the back of the international break, so we're had virtually no time to work with the players. Some only arrived back yesterday.
"United is a huge club and will always be under scrutiny. I think the intensity is still there. The players will feel it, it's always a huge game. It's still two sets of supporters that are very passionate about their teams."