Sturridge rejects claim he lacks commitment to Liverpool cause
Liverpool Daniel Sturridge has hit back at the critics who claimed he lacks the passion to play for the after spending many a long month in the treatment room over the last couple of seasons.
The injury-plagued 26-year-old has featured in the last three matches after two months sidelined by a hamstring injury, during which time there were questions about his commitment to the club.
Reports also emerged suggesting he was looking to leave in the summer after two years of injury frustration - and there were even suggestions the player's religious beliefs were something else holding him back - but he dismissed all those claims.
"To say a player doesn't want to play is the biggest disrespect you could ever say to a footballer," he said.
"I think it is astonishing, disappointing - whoever is saying it - but that's football and people are entitled to their opinions.
"I would probably say a lot of the things people say about me aren't true. I don't listen to social media but it is surprising [to be questioned] - I didn't know religion had anything to do with football.
"I don't think anyone will understand how much it means to me to play football and I'll continue to do my best and focus on Liverpool.
"It's important to worry about the present. It has been a difficult time being injured but it is part of football and now I'm looking forward to the future, of course with Liverpool.
"There is not much to stress about the situation; I'm pretty relaxed, I've been relaxed and I'm happy here."
Sturridge has played just nine matches since April, when a hip problem forced him to have an operation in New York in May.
It was the latest in a string of problems which have seen him sidelined for more time than he has actually been available in his three years at Anfield.
But he stressed he was more frustrated than anyone about that and so his return to the side has lifted the gloom.
"In life there are times when you have great periods and times when you have difficult periods - not just in football - but I've never worried," he added.
"It is about how you deal with those situations. I worry about what I can do. I am blessed by God, I have no worries, zero stresses. I am just happy.
"I am very ambitious, very determined to help Liverpool have success; I'm totally focused and of course I want to be on the pitch every game playing like every player and it hurts not to be playing.
"I am not someone who will be laughing and joking, going out with my friends living life to the fullest when I am not playing.
"I am at home, not enjoying life and not stress-free. I am devastated to be sitting in the stands watching my team-mates play."
Sturridge is likely to be in the starting line-up to face Augsburg on Thursday in the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie at Anfield which is delicately poised at 0-0.