England manager Roy Hodgson challenged Daniel Sturridge to prove he should be his first-choice striker, saying the position was still up for grabs.
Sturridge has battled injuries for the past 12 months and missed Liverpool’s 0-0 Premier League draw against Tottenham on Saturday due to a knee worry.
The 26-year-old’s absence leaves him with a point to prove to Hodgson ahead of Euro 2016, which England easily qualified for.
Hodgson said there was no first-choice option, with Sturridge, Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney among the possibilities.
“It would be ridiculous to say at the moment anyone is number one,” he said.
“For Daniel, we haven’t seen him for well over a year.
“I’m not prepared at the moment to say Daniel’s number one or Rooney’s number one or Kane’s number one. Everyone is in competition. I’m delighted Daniel is back fit and playing.
“I know, he knows and Liverpool know that there is a bit of work for him to do because he hasn’t been back for such a long time and even when you regain fitness, you don’t regain match fitness fully until you get a few matches under your belt.
“But we’re really pleased that he is back playing and we’re expecting him to be the player he was when we selected him and believed so much in before the World Cup.”
Hodgson hopes to have Sturridge available for England’s friendlies against Spain and France in November.
He said Sturridge had proven his quality, but injuries had affected his England career.
“We are counting on him being fit, getting matches and getting some goals hopefully and being with us in November,” Hodgson said.
“No-one would deny Sturridge is a gifted player. Everyone in the country realises what a talent Daniel is, but it has been a little bit stop-start with England for quite a while now.”
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