Brendan Rodgers believes Daniel Sturridge is finding it “difficult” to settle at Liverpool this season.
Sturridge has scored 11 goals in 22 games during an injury-hit season at Anfield, with only Philippe Coutinho (12) registering more goals.
The England international has scored four goals in his last six games for Liverpool, but was not used by Jurgen Klopp during the club’s Europa League semi-final first-leg defeat to Villarreal last week.
Reports have persisted throughout the season that Sturridge does not enjoy the most productive of relationships with manager Klopp, but the striker and the boss both insist they are happy with one another.
Rodgers, who handed Sturridge his first three starts of the season before being sacked by Liverpool in October, believes that the three separate injuries the 26-year-old has contended with this season have restricted him.
“It’s been difficult for Daniel because he’s been injured a lot, and other players have come in and have done very, very well,” Rodgers told Sky Sports.
“Jurgen, as it is for any manager, has to manage the squad the best you possibly can to get the results and it’s about the team you can put together.”
Liverpool were beaten 1-0 by Villarreal last Thursday, and face the difficult task of breaching the Spanish side’s tough defence when they visit Anfield in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final on Thursday. Rodgers feels Liverpool can reach the final later this month.
“I think they have a great chance on Thursday night,” he said. “Villarreal are one-nil up, Liverpool will be disappointed to concede late on but going back to Anfield with only one goal to make up, they’ve got every chance of getting through.
“The Anfield support is incredible so I’m sure they’ll really push them into the final.”