Liverpool legend John Aldridge has questioned Daniel Sturridge's fitness levels after the striker's lack of impact in the Premier League this campaign. He has made six appearances thus far, which included three starts, but failed to find the back of the net.
Liverpool have made a strong start to the new campaign and are the joint top scorers with Manchester City, with 18 goals in seven games. But the England international has failed to contribute any of them, which is a cause for concern for Jurgen Klopp despite the options at his disposal.
Sturridge was left on the bench at the start of the season as he was returning from an injury, but has since been playing regularly with the first-team. Roberto Firmino is Klopp's preferred option at number nine at the moment with Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho supporting the Brazilian, but the former Chelsea striker has been afforded a number of chances to prove himself and Aldridge believes the striker is off the pace in terms of movement and recapturing his old form.
"It was clear from the game at Swansea that Daniel Sturridge is still pretty rusty. I'm not sure why. But he doesn't seem to be 100%, whether that is in terms of fitness or sharpness," Aldridge wrote in his column for the Liverpool Echo.
"He did okay when he came on from the bench, but I'd like to see him playing more of his usual game. I want to see him on the shoulder of centre-halves and not dropping deep so often. That's where he does his best work, he's great at timing his runs in behind the defence.
"But he's starting to drop off and go into midfield or out wide, which is okay if Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino move into the centre. Otherwise, we're missing a striker.
"There were a few opportunities on Saturday where Sturridge could have been put in. He made himself available and the ball didn't arrive, and you could see he was becoming a little frustrated. Yes, he was playing alongside one or two new players in Mane and Gini Wijnaldum. But the best players can read each other, and Sturridge needs to shake off his ring-rust soon," he explained.
Sturridge will need to start firing soon, as the manager has a number of options to replace the England international. Meanwhile, Divock Origi is waiting in the wings as is Danny Ings. The latter is yet to make an appearance in the Premier League as he continues to build match fitness with the U23 side after missing most of last season with a knee injury.
Ings has been in fine form for the Premier League 2 side and has scored seven goals in just four games, which is likely to earn him a first-team call. The former Liverpool forward is also confident that the striker will be given a chance to prove himself in the League Cup clash against Tottenham, which is being touted as a possible match for his first start under Klopp.
"Danny Ings is doing all he can to be given a first-team chance. He can't stop scoring for the under-23s, and his hat-trick at Ipswich Town on Sunday will have done him a power of good," the Reds legend added.
"Game time at any level is sharpening him up after such a long time out, and it's clear he is back on track. Maybe the EFL Cup game against Tottenham Hotspur later this month could give him his chance. But he's down the pecking order at present. That's what happens when you're out for such a lengthy period."