Daniel Sturridge has to hit top form at Liverpool - Michael Owen

DANIEL STURRIDGE has been warned it's now or never for his Liverpool career.

Posted Tuesday, August 01, 2017 by Dailystar.co.uk

Daniel Sturridge has to hit top form at Liverpool - Michael Owen
Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge still has a lot left in the tank, according to Michael Owen

The Reds striker has blown hot and cold during an injury-hit four years on Merseyside.

Now he is at a crossroads with Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi and new boy Dominic Solanke all battling with Sturridge to lead the line.

But ex-Liverpool star Michael Owen is backing Sturridge to finally get his Anfield career firing on all cylinders.

Owen said: "Liverpool have made some smart signings and the gas of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah will frighten any defence.

"But Daniel has pace to burn and is a real talent in his own right.

"We just want a fit and firing Daniel. He is an exceptional finisher and I'm a big fan.

"If I look at that Liverpool team, and if everyone is available, then Dan starts. There's a guarantee of goals if you get him on the pitch."

With the World Cup in Russia less than 12 months away, Sturridge also faces a battle to keep his dream alive with England.

The former Manchester City and Chelsea hitman has eight goals in 25 appearances for the Three Lions but hasn't played for his country since last November.

"It's just a big year for him at club level as it is for country," said 89-times capped Owen

"The World Cup is on the horizon. And, for me, Harry Kane and Daniel are the best natural strikers England have at the moment.

"So we all want him to stay fit, score goals and deliver like we all know he can."

Sturridge, 27, ended last season with plenty of question marks hanging over his fitness and long-term future at Anfield.

But if he can rediscover the devastating levels he showed alongside Luis Suarez in 2013-14 then Liverpool could be vying for the title, according to Owen.

"Chelsea, as champions, are still the team to beat," said Owen at an event to celebrate McDonald's Community Football Programme.

"Teams have to make up a lot of points from last season.

"But this is a new one and you can put Liverpool, Tottenham and the two Manchester clubs in the equation.

"They will be up there. Some of those teams who struggled to break down teams when needed last season have now all added goals this summer.

"That will win them crucial points when it most matters."

Liverpool's hopes rest heavily on keeping Philippe Coutinho out of Barcelona's clutches

The Brazilian has a contract until 2022 with no release clause and Owen - who himself swapped Liverpool for Real Madrid in 2004 - expects the playmaker to stay put.

Owen added: "I'd be very surprised if he left. Liverpool are a club progressing and from what I understand he is happy.

"The fans love him, Jurgen Klopp loves him and he only signed a new contract recently.

"I don't believe he is unsettled but if Neymar does go that will of course only intensify their interest.

Daniel Sturridge has to hit top form at Liverpool - Michael Owen
Liverpool legend Michael Owen still rates Daniel Sturridge

"And Liverpool saw it with Suarez that South Americans tend to prefer the Spanish League with the language and culture.

"Hopefully history won't repeat itself as he is great for Liverpool and for the Premier League."

* Michael Owen is helping McDonald's celebrate 15 years of its Community Football Programme and its long standing commitment to inclusivity.

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