Football

Daniel: Don't label me 'lazy'

England striker Daniel Sturridge has railed against suggestions he is not a team player, insisting he has a responsibility to play high up the field and hunt goals.

Sturridge's raw ability is not in question, but he has attracted criticism throughout his career about his work-rate and willingness to dig deep for the side.

He has started all three games since Gareth Southgate's arrival as interim manager, scoring in wins over Malta and Scotland, but receiving modest notices for his efforts in the stalemate against Slovenia.

Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp appears to have resolved to treat Sturridge as a luxury item rather than a key starter and he is yet to open his Premier League account for the season.

With England's prestige friendly against Spain looming tomorrow morning (Singapore time), the 27-year-old has defended his approach.

Asked about the perception that he does not offer enough around the park, Sturridge said: "I don't worry about that, it's an unfair opinion.

"I feel that I contribute to the team with assists and goals. It doesn't really matter what people say to me."

BENEFIT

He also believes the team benefit tactically from his single-minded approach to leading the line and that chasing the ball too closely would be a dereliction of duty.

"It's about positional awareness at the end of the day," he explained. "My job is to score and my job is to create for the team and coming into the midfield positions is maybe too deep.

"I feel that if I'm coming short and I'm trying to get involved in the game then there's no-one up front in the forward positions.

"It's important to have a focal point of the team. If I drop deep and come on the ball, do skills and take people on, there's no one in the centre-forward position.

"That's where I need to be, in between the lines, threatening the centre halves, pushing them back and creating space for the other people.

"Sometimes I have to drop in there to maybe give them a different picture to create more problems but, again, it's about being in the box. That is where I need to be."

Meanwhile, England captain Wayne Rooney will not start the friendly against Spain after missing training yesterday, manager Southgate said.

Rooney sat out the session due to minor issues and Southgate confirmed that Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson will lead the team against the 2010 world champions at Wembley tomorrow morning.

"I wouldn't start Wayne in this game anyway. Jordan Henderson will be captain," said Southgate.

"The key for me is I believe we have several leaders and I don't think we can have just one captain.

"Too much responsibility has been on Wayne, we need to share that. Once you have a team of those leaders you can have a lot of success."

The Spain game will be the last of Southgate's four-match audition and he wants to know within weeks whether he will be England's next permanent manager.

After the Spain clash, England are not in action again until March and Southgate said: "It will be important for me to know what I'm doing after the middle of November.

"We've got a European Under-21 Championship to prepare for and the seniors have got their next round of qualifiers (in March).

"Of course everybody is going to want to know, I guess, by the end of November, middle of December, where everything is heading so we can decide who is responsible for which parts of the organisation's work.

"That's not my decision in the end. I've enjoyed what I've done so far." - Wire Services.

Daniel Sturridgeliverpoolstriker