As the 22 players walk out onto the pristine Wembley turf for Sunday’s League Cup final between Liverpool and Manchester City, Daniel Sturridge will have more to prove than most.
The injury-plagued Liverpool striker, who will be facing his former club, is fighting to emerge from a mid-career slump that threatens to cost him a place in England’s squad for Euro 2016.
Having made just 11 Premier League starts since August 2014, the 26-year-old has disappeared from view at times and this week he issued an impassioned rebuttal to press reports he was considering his Anfield future.
“I don’t think anyone will understand how much it means to me to play football and I’ll continue to do my best and focus on Liverpool,” he said.
“It has been a difficult time being injured, but it is part of football and now I’m looking forward to the future, of course with Liverpool.”
After becoming frustrated about his lack of progress at first City and then Chelsea, Sturridge did not begin to consistently showcase the staggering ability first glimpsed during his teenage years until he joined Liverpool in January 2013.
An intelligent, technically accomplished and elusive striker, he scored 11 times in his first 16 games and contributed 21 goals to a mesmerising 52-goal partnership with Luis Suarez as Liverpool came agonisingly close to Premier League glory in 2013-14.
Fondly admired by England manager Roy Hodgson, he went to the 2014 World Cup with the number nine shirt on his back and scored in their opening game against Italy.
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate