John Aldridge has urged Jurgen Klopp to start Daniel Sturridge when Liverpool take on Villarreal in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final at Anfield on Thursday (5 May). The striker was an unused substitute in the first leg which the Reds lost 1-0 and will need to score a minimum of two goals without conceding to book a place in the finals.
The omission of the England international forward at the El Madrigal stadium in the first leg raised eyebrows amongst supporters and former players, but the manager indicated that it was a tactical decision owing to the style of play preferred against the La Liga side. Sturridge has been quite impressive following his return from injury notching up 11 goals in 22 appearances and Aldridge is confident that he can get the job done when Villarreal visit on Thursday.
Apart from the former Chelsea striker, Roberto Firmino could be competing for a place in the starting XI with Adam Lallana. It is for the No 10 role, in which both have excelled at different times during the season. Klopp will have more than one major decision to make in what is their biggest game of the season thus far.
"Daniel Sturridge must start against Villarreal, it's as simple as that. We need to score, we need to be on the front foot, and so our best striker has to be on the pitch," Aldridge wrote in his column for the Liverpool Echo.
"I was a bit surprised he wasn't used over in Spain, but I don't expect a repeat at Anfield. He'll be in, I'm sure, and I would back him to do the business."
"The real decision, for me, is whether Adam Lallana or Roberto Firmino starts. The back four and goalkeeper is a given, and Lucas and Joe Allen must start in midfield. James Milner and Philippe Coutinho have to start, so the only question is which one of the other two gets the last shirt. Firmino didn't do a lot in Villarreal, but he is a threat and gets goals," the former Reds forward added.