Phil Thompson says there will be a “big question mark” over Daniel Sturridge’s future at Liverpool if he does not start against Villarreal on Thursday night.
Sturridge was an unused substitute in the first leg of the Reds’ Europa League semi-final in Spain last week, with Roberto Firmino preferred in attack.
Sturridge then played the full 90 minutes in the 3-1 defeat to Swansea at the weekend, suggesting Jurgen Klopp is once again planning to start the England striker on the bench against Villarreal at Anfield.
“I’m really worried for Daniel not getting any game time in the first leg and you could see his body language against Swansea was sort of resigned,” Thompson told Sky Sports.
“It’s a big night for his Liverpool career. I think if he doesn’t play then he will have a big question mark over his future and whether he will fit in here.
“You want to have you manager’s trust in you playing big games.”
Sturridge did not even get on as a substitute in the first leg against Villarreal, with Christian Benteke introduced late on with the Reds’ chasing a goal.
Thompson believes it may say something about the pecking order of strikers at Anfield.
“I can appreciate Klopp starting Roberto Firmino, but I was shocked [Sturridge] didn’t come on with 20 minutes to go, when an away goal looked up for grabs,” Thompson added.
“Benteke came on at half-time on Sunday and his body language was positive and, with Klopp shaking his hand after he scored, you wonder whether he’s ahead of Daniel in the pecking order.
“It’s very difficult for us looking in and knowing what goes on the training but that may be what is determining how and why he’s not started big games.
“For me, I would have definitely him (Sturridge) in the starting line-up for the second leg.”
On the game itself, Thompson doesn’t think the Reds have anything to be afraid of and that Villarreal’s exuberant celebrations could motivate Klopp’s men.
“I don’t think there was anything to frighten Liverpool,” he said. “I know they have a great defensive record, but that’s mainly at home.
“I think the way the celebrated the 1-0 scoreline like they were through would have been a big motivation for Liverpool and I think they will go through.”