Having found himself second in line at Liverpool, the assumption was that Daniel Sturridge would struggle to get the start against Malta on Friday when England resumed their World Cup qualification campaign. Yet start he did, even scoring the opening goal, in the 29th minute, as England eased to a 2-0 victory.
“I don’t want to talk too soon,” said Sturridge of being given the start and of, more generally, having managed to stay fit for selection in recent months. “I was starting a lot before the World Cup, I was playing all the time, and at the Euros I was starting to play again. Hopefully now I can continue playing.”
If he can stay fit and find top form, it will be an easy choice for England to keep starting him and give Jürgen Klopp a good kind of headache as he tried to figure out all of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, and Sturridge into the lineup on a regular basis.
After rewarding stand-in England manager Gareth Southgate for his start on Friday with a goal, though, it seems certain Sturridge will get another chance when the Three Lions take on Slovenia on Tuesday. And perhaps unsurprisingly, the situation has Sturridge praising the man who recently took over for Sam Allardyce.
“Gareth has done an amazing job to come in on such short notice and put his stamp on the team and how he wants us to play,” Sturridge noted. “They allowed us to express ourselves and play good football. He’s been a breath of fresh air, and we’ve all enjoyed working for him and training hard for him.”
In other news that concerns both England and Liverpool, rumour has it that Sturridge’s club teammate Jordan Henderson will be handed the captaincy for Tuesday night’s qualifying match.