Steven Gerrard has described Daniel Sturridge as perhaps the best English striker he has played with over the course of his career.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the Reds captain gave a glowing reference to the 25-year-old, suggesting he has the potential to become a Liverpool icon.
‘For me, when you talk about potential in this country, Daniel Sturridge is the player with the most,’ Gerrard said.
‘Ability-wise he is possibly the No 1 (English) striker I’ve played with, when you talk about speed, sharpness and skill and different types of goals. Some of the things he does in training blow me away. He could go as far as he wants to go.’
‘Last year he was in Luis’s shadow and now he is not there, it’s for Daniel to be Liverpool’s iconic No 9 for many years. We need him at the moment. We need him back from injury as soon as possible.’
Sturridge has been out of action for almost two months after suffering an injury on international duty with England.
In his absence, £16million summer signing Mario Balotelli has struggled as a loan striker, and is yet to open his account in the Premier League.
The 24-year-old has also been criticised by former Liverpool defender turned pundit Jamie Carragher, who remains a close friend of Gerrard.
The 36-year-old stated recently on Sky Sports that Balotelli was a ‘panic buy’ from Brendan Rodgers.
However, Gerrard insists it is too early to judge the Italian striker.
To be a main striker at Liverpool you have to expect the pressure and the responsibility and embrace it,’ Gerrard said.
‘Our fans have seen so many quality forwards over the years they expect new ones to be quality in every game. Above everything else you will have to score goals and score them regularly.
‘Look at the ones I have played with — Fowler, Owen, Suarez, Torres. They have always been consistent with goals and that’s what has made them the superstars they are. You have to respect Jamie’s opinion. He knows football but it’s too early to get on Mario’s back.
‘He just needs time to score the goals he needs to prove to people he is worthy of staying here. I am not gonna judge him after 10 games. To come in after Suarez was always going to be a big ask and he’s not feeling sorry for himself. He is working hard, doing extra shooting sessions.
‘I’ve actually been impressed the way he goes about his work. You hear all kinds of stories and rumours before you meet him, but he does all the work. I like the guy.
‘Yes, it seems he likes the attention, he likes being the main man up front. He loves the social media and loves talking to supporters and if he wants that at Liverpool you have to score goals. He will know that.
‘And if he didn’t know it coming in then he will know it now.’