In Depth

Jurgen Klopp impressed as Daniel Sturridge reveals his injury frustration

Striker rounds on critics in emphatic fashion as he prepares for fourth game of his Liverpool comeback

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has hit out at critics who accused him of not wanting to play as he battled to overcome a series of niggling injuries.

After spending much of the season sidelined, the striker is set to feature against Augsburg in the Europa League tonight. It will be the first time this season that he has featured in four consecutive games.

Speaking ahead of the tie, Sturridge took the opportunity to set the record straight over his fitness battles, which have restricted him to just 76 appearances in three years.

"To say a player doesn't want to play is the biggest disrespect ever to any footballer and it's astonishing," he said. "It's very disappointing... People are entitled to opinions but all I can say is don't think anyone will understand how much it means to me to play football."

Warming to his theme, he insisted he was committed to the Liverpool cause and did not enjoy life on the sidelines.

"I'm not at home chilling, I'm not out with friends living life to full. I'm not happy sitting in the stands. I'm devastated at watching them play. It hurts hearing second and third hand what people say. I'd say a lot of them aren't the truth. All I want to do is help this team have success – that's the most important thing, nothing else matters," he said.

Sturridge has been "dismissed as a malingerer by some and [is] viewed with suspicion by others", says The Times. But he made clear his frustrations. "In terms of setting the record straight, this was as emphatic as it gets... as a routine pre-match press conference turned into a cathartic defence of his reputation," says the paper. 

The devout Christian has been particularly put out by claims on social media suggesting he was reluctant to play for religious reasons.

"For those who see only his brash social media presence, Sturridge's faith comes as a surprise," says the Daily Mirror, but "it has been one of the biggest factors in helping him through the last two years, where he has been struck down by hip, ankle, thigh, hamstring and calf injuries".

He can come across as arrogant, adds the Mirror, but as he tackled his critics, Sturridge offered "a glimpse of a different person, one who finds it not only painful, but heartbreaking when he hears some of the wilder speculation about his commitment".

It was a performance that seemed to have the desired effect on manager Jurgen Klopp, one of those rumoured to be unconvinced by Sturridge's dedication. The German was "taken aback by the forthright views of his leading striker but pleased Sturridge had publicly declared his contentment with Liverpool", says The Guardian.

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