Football

Sturridge happy to play support role

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is remaining positive as he tries to fight his way back into the side after injury.

The England international scored 56 seconds after coming off the bench in the 4-1 win over Stoke yesterday morning (Singapore time) in only his second appearance since returning from a month out with a calf problem.

On his previous outing - as an 82nd-minute substitute against Everton - he helped win the Merseyside Derby with a shot against the post which was turned in by Sadio Mane, the man who may yet offer him a way back into the side.

Mane, the Reds' leading scorer with eight, has two matches remaining against Manchester City and Sunderland before leaving for the month-long African Nations Cup.

Playmaker Philippe Coutinho is also nearing full fitness after an ankle injury and will contest that place, but Sturridge is also focused on helping the team.

"The most important thing is that I keep my mindset as positive as possible," he said.

"It's a team game at the end of the day - everyone is going to be needed in the squad.

"I've not had any issues or problems. I'm enjoying my football and, when I get my minutes, I focus myself. If I'm not in the team, I stay positive and give my input when I can."

Liverpool have now scored four or more goals in half of their eight league matches at Anfield, where they have scored 25 times.

Even after conceding the first goal at home for the first time this season, they bounced back impressively - aided by some lax Stoke defending - to win comfortably.

"We never gave up, we kept going throughout the game and we know that the hard work is going to pay off at some point," Sturridge told Sky Sports.

"That's the most important thing for us. It's nice to play and score goals. It's important that the team keep going and put the pressure on."

For the second match running, manager Juergen Klopp praised Sturridge for his contribution.

"I was more than pleased, it was a perfect goal," said the German of the way his striker seized on a backpass from Ryan Shawcross to confidently round goalkeeper Lee Grant.

"In a situation like this, 3-1 up but still intense, you can use the quality Daniel has. You can learn a lot of things, but not about being in that position - that's natural and doing what he did was perfect.

"It was a very important goal because it closed the game and gave us the chance to cool down a little bit." - PA SPORT

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