Daniel Sturridge insists criticism that he is not a team player for Liverpool or England is “unfair”.
Sturridge’s raw ability is not in question but he has attracted criticism throughout his career about his work-rate and willingness to dig deep for the side.
He has started all three games since Gareth Southgate’s arrival as interim manager, scoring in wins over Malta and Scotland but receiving modest notices for his efforts in the stalemate against Slovenia.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp appears to have resolved to treat Sturridge as a luxury item rather than a key starter and he is yet to open his Premier League account for the season.
With England’s prestige friendly against Spain looming on Tuesday the 27-year-old has defended his approach to matches.
Asked about the perception that he does not offer enough around the park, Sturridge said: “I don’t worry about that, it’s an unfair opinion.
“I feel that I contribute to the team with assists and goals. It doesn’t really matter what people say to me.”
He also believes the team benefit tactically from his single-minded approach to leading the line and that chasing the ball too closely would be a dereliction of duty.
“It’s about positional awareness at the end of the day,” he explained.
“My job is to score and my job is to create for the team and coming into the midfield positions is maybe too deep.
“I feel that if I’m coming short and I’m trying to get involved in the game then there’s no-one up front in the forward positions.
“It’s important to have a focal point of the team. If I drop deep and come on the ball, do skills and take people on there’s no one in the centre-forward position.
“That’s where I need to be, in between the lines, threatening the centre-halves, pushing them back and creating space for the other people.
“Sometimes I have to drop in there to maybe give them a different picture to create more problems but, again, it’s about being in the box. That is where I need to be.”
Of all the players to have worked under Southgate so far, Sturridge has arguably fared the best against expectations.
He may not have been in the starting XI for the past three games had Kane been fit but has taken his chance, bringing his international tally to eight with his deft headed efforts against Malta and Scotland at Wembley.
Few, then, have as much vested interest in seeing the 46-year-old promoted from interim to permanent boss after the Spain game.
“He’s got a lot of faith in me and I’m trying to replay him as best I can by performing well in the games,” said Sturridge.
“It’s important for every player, for the manager to have confidence in them. So it’s great.
“Goals are what I enjoy doing but it’s the team that matters. As long as we win games and you’re part of that result you move forward and you have confidence.
“But it’s great to contribute with goals because all strikers want to score.”