Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has questioned the mindset of Daniel Sturridge, but is aiming to help the striker put his injury problems behind him.
Klopp insists the England man remains “outstanding player”, but has refused to compare him to the Sturridge of old.
The 26-year-old striker made his first appearance of the season in the 2-0 defeat at Burnley on Saturday after a hip problem sidelined him at Arsenal.
Sturridge played on the right-hand side of Klopp’s front three at Turf Moor, but he struggled to make an impact on the game in attack and was replaced on 65 minutes by Divock Origi.
“Daniel is still a very quick player but he’s had a lot of injuries in the last few years and a few muscle issues – I have no idea how this exactly changes the mind of a player,” said Klopp, who was quick to say he had “no idea” whether Sturridge will be fit for Liverpool’s opener against Arsenal.
“He is still on the way back but he is still an outstanding player and even an outstanding player needs rhythm. Saturday was not the best game of football Daniel has ever played but even in a game like this he could have scored.
“I don’t compare him with the younger Daniel Sturridge. He is a really good player with all you need when he is fit.
“Obviously there is a bit I can do to help him (psychologically) but you have to accept as a manager that it is really rare you can say 100 per cent what a player wants to hear.
“What I can say to any player is that what always happens is those who stay in the race and work really hard will get the benefit. That is how it is. Sometimes it is a little bit harder, sometimes easier, but that is for all of us the same.”
With no European action this season Klopp insists there is no greater expectation on his side to win a trophy.
In contrast to last season, when runs to the League Cup and Europa League final contributed to a final tally of 63 matches, the Reds’ fixture list will be much less congested.
It was suggested to Klopp that without the distraction of European football his side should be targeting the domestic cup competitions.
“It is not about not being in Europe and so one cup is important. This is important,” he said ahead of the EFL Cup trip to Sky Bet Championship side Burton.
“How can we be more than 100 per cent ambitious?
“I know we have never shown a lack of respect to any competition and in this moment I am really optimistic we will find a really good line-up and then we have to perform.
“But there is always this kind of pressure whether we are in Europe or not.”