Oh to be a fly on the wall of Brendan Rodgers’ office during international breaks. Especially this one, when news of Daniel Sturridge’s latest injury setback was announced.
Liverpool were readying themselves for the return of their great-striking hope when they resumed Premier League action against Crystal Palace, a game they are 5/6 to win.
However, they’ll have to pack away the party rings and ‘welcome back’ signs for a while, as the Englishman has reinjured the thigh that has disrupted his season so far.
That means relying on Mario Balotelli to come good is back on the menu for the Anfield club, or does it? Here are three ways the Reds can best turn Sturridge’s injury to their advantage:
Play in a diamond more often
Without Luis Suarez’s former strike partner, Rodgers has preferred to use Balotelli up front on his own in a 4-2-3-1. It hasn’t worked.
Instead harping back to the midfield diamond that served the side so well last term, would allow players like Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho to utilise their strengths without sacrificing a striker.
Use Rickie Lambert as the creative hub
The Liverpudlian hasn’t quite had a fair crack of the whip since moving to Anfield from Southampton.
But his late cameo for England against Scotland, where his passing ability was showcased in Wayne Rooney’s third goal, shows that Lambert can be relied upon to find the arching runs of either his strike partner or the number 10.
It’s time the experiment ended really, isn’t it? If you are going to play Lambert, who deserves a chance, then partnering the languid Italian with him is slightly counterproductive.
To make the best use of the English targetman, a partner who will stretch the defence the other side is necessary, making Raheem Sterling or Fabio Borini the better options.
Playing Sterling up front also opens a space for Adam Lallana in the side too.
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