LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers welcomed back the return of Daniel Sturridge’s goalscoring touch on Saturday with the admission that the Reds have missed their England striker.
Sturridge scored within 12 minutes after coming off the bench for his first appearance in five months, as Liverpool beat West Ham 2-0 in the Premier League.
A delicious pass from Philippe Coutinho set up Sturridge’s impressive 80th minute finish with Rodgers conceding that the assist was exactly what his returning international needed.
“It’s just what you want when you’ve been out for so long,” Rodgers told Sky Sports.
”He (Sturridge) just moved naturally into position, and we’ve missed that -- that pace and that finishing. You’ve seen him there with 25 minutes and he could have had a couple of goals.
”His first touch was brilliant and that’s what he can do. A great finish and it was nice for him to come back and get a goal.
“Daniel Sturridge is a top class player, he has shown that in his career so far. He worked very hard and the first opportunity that came his way he took.”
He showed signs of rustiness afterwards but Sturridge’s comeback strike, after Raheem Sterling had opened the scoring at Anfield with his eighth goal of the season, demonstrated how much Liverpool had missed him during their early-season struggles.
His goal ensured Liverpool could celebrate their fifth win in their last six Premier League games, to move them up to seventh in the table and within striking distance of the Champions League places.
Sturridge had not played since suffering a thigh injury while playing for England in September. He had subsequently been sidelined with calf and thigh problems. (Writing by Ian Chadband; Editing by Alan Baldwin)