Liverpool saw their Premier League top four chances take a severe dent after losing 2-1 at home to a resurgent Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men had hoped to take advantage of four of the top six playing in the FA Cup semi-finals over the weekend by clinching the three points, and looked set to do just that when Philippe Coutinho whipped a sensational free-kick past Wayne Hennessey after 24 minutes.
However, former Red Christian Benteke netted either side of half time to secure the Eagles their sixth league win in eight games, and thus move them seven points clear of the bottom three.
It was not to be for Klopp’s side though on a disappointing afternoon at Anfield, and it also throws their top four chances into jeopardy, what with fourth place Manchester City and fifth place Manchester United both with two games in hand on the Merseyside outfit.
One man who played no part against Palace on Sunday was striker Daniel Sturridge, and he looks set to miss the rest of the season with a hip injury.
And The Daily Express are speculating as to whether he will don the red of Liverpool again after a frustrating season under Klopp, and there’s little doubt that he needs to get out of the club this summer to resurrect his flailing career.
It’s clearly not happening for him under Klopp.
Although he has been frustrated by injuries at times this term, Sturridge has been restricted to just five Premier League appearances, and only four others in the domestic cup competitions.
And it will be even more irritating for the 27-year-old given that he has been in the matchday squad on 30 occasions this term, and of the other 21 times where he hasn’t been named as a starter, only 14 has seen him come off the bench.
So not only is he not in Klopp’s plans in terms of a starting berth, he’s not always the man he looks at to change the game, and when you consider that he was left on the bench in their draws against Chelsea and Bournemouth in recent months, both games they could’ve won, it underlines how far down the pecking order he is.
The front three of Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane team up for Klopp’s best frontline, and have repaid their manager’s faith with 34 league goals between them, but Divock Origi is then Klopp’s first choice replacement, be it as a substitute or when any of the trio aren’t available for selection.
There was a time whereby Sturridge got his chance, and he took it with goals against Stoke and Sunderland, but when he was then backed by his manager to perform against Southampton in the League Cup semi-finals, he didn’t.
And that could well signal the end of his Liverpool career as since then he has managed four substitute appearances, and sustained a recurrence of a hip problem.
You sense that Sturridge needs a fresh start away from Anfield to get back to the level we saw in years gone by.
The England striker was excellent for the Reds back in 2013 and 2014, where he netted 22 goals in 29 league games, and his record remains reasonably prolific, scoring 60 times and laying on 21 assists in just 115 games for the Merseyside outfit.
Clearly, he has the ability and pedigree at this level to do a job for the vast majority of sides in the Premier League, and on a personal level, Sturridge needs first team football to maintain his place in the England side.
The 27-year-old has been one of the nation’s main forwards in recent years, earning 25 caps and netting eight times along the way, but with Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, and Marcus Rashford all in decent form this season, and 34-year-old Jermain Defoe performing brilliantly, his place is no longer assured.
Ultimately, Sturridge needs to leave Liverpool – he is clearly not the type of striker Klopp wants in his team, and at 27 years of age, he needs to be playing regularly so he can reach his peak in the next few years.