(Reuters) - Juergen Klopp says striker Daniel Sturridge needs to seize his opportunity to reclaim a spot in the Liverpool starting lineup as the club continue their hectic January schedule with a League Cup trip to Southampton on Wednesday.
Sturridge is back to full fitness and expected to feature in the semi-final first leg at St Mary’s to plug a gap left by the absence of Senegalese winger Sadio Mane, who is away on national duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“It would be fantastic and sometimes you need to feel lucky with timing,” Liverpool manager Klopp told reporters of the England forward’s prospects of forcing his way into the side.
“Sadio is away, Philippe (Coutinho) is on the way back (from injury) and Daniel is already back. That helps and I hope it stays like this for him.”
Due to a series a minor injuries and Klopp’s preferred front-three of Mane, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana, the 27-year-old has started just six games this season and appeared nine times off the bench, bagging six goals for the club.
Klopp, however, indicated that Sturridge could play a more significant role if the England international remained fit for the second half of the season.
”If Daniel is fit are there ever any arguments here about his quality? ‘No’.
”If he stays on this fitness level and improving as he always should, that is perfect.
“It is perfect news for him and for us that he can perform. It would be cool if we could speak like this for the next few weeks and months,” Klopp added.
Following the midweek cup encounter, second-placed Liverpool visit sixth-placed Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru