Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has warned that striker Daniel Sturridge is not yet fully fit after the England international made his first Premier League start since March in the 1-1 draw with Norwich City. The 26 year old was replaced after 63 minutes of the game at Anfield after spurning a number of chances, but came through the cameo appearance unscathed.
Sturridge has undergone hip surgery in the US, which curtailed his campaign last term, and had not featured this season before being recalled from the start for the visit of Alex Neil's Norwich. The Reds were unable to mark his return with a win, as Russell Martin's strike cancelled out Danny Ings' maiden goal for the Merseyside club.
With Liverpool facing Carlisle United, Aston Villa and FC Sion in the next week in three different competitions, Sturridge will have ample opportunity to improve his match sharpness, which was notably lacking during the draw with the Canaries. But Rodgers has warned that the forward's condition will be managed and that he will be gradually brought back to full fitness.
"It was important to get him on the field, he did well for the hour that he played," he said, according to the Liverpool Echo. "He's still a way off his full fitness but his presence and stature in the game always give us hope because he's got good qualities. It's just about games for him, building his fitness. There's no pressure for him to do that."
Defender Mamadou Sakho joined Sturridge in making his Premier League return against Norwich. The France international made his first appearance since the final day of last season in the Europa League draw with Bordeaux, where an impressive display saw him retained in the Liverpool team.
Sakho did not feature in any of Liverpool's first five league games, three of which he was left on the bench for, due to Rodgers having fitness concerns over the 25 year old. But the Northern Irish gaffer says he is ready for an extended run in the team after making an encouraging return.
"He was excellent in the week," Rodgers admitted. "The thing with Mama has been about keeping him fit and making sure he is at a peak level of fitness to play the games. That was always something that was a concern but he's worked very, very hard on that aspect of his game and I think he's come back into the team in the week and today and was excellent."