Jurgen Klopp lauded Daniel Sturridge after the striker marked his return to Liverpool’s starting XI with a goal in the comprehensive 4-1 Premier League win over Stoke City on Sunday.
Sturridge was left on the bench for last Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final first leg at Borussia Dortmund, but responded with an excellent all-round performance and the crucial second goal as Liverpool swept Stoke aside after Bojan Krkic had equalised Alberto Moreno’s early opener at Anfield.
Divock Origi – who scored after starting ahead of Sturridge at Signal Iduna Park – came off the bench to continue his hot streak with a second-half brace, leading to much of Klopp’s post-match media conference being focused on the young Belgian’s contribution.
However, while also hailing the maturing Origi, Klopp reserved special words of praise for Sturridge, who will hope to have done enough to earn a starting berth for the season-defining visit of Dortmund on Thursday.
“It’s normal after today that you want to speak about Divock, but I actually want to speak about Daniel Sturridge,” said the German.
“He worked really hard, scored a brilliant goal, and was so important for us.
“He kept [full Premier League debutant Sheyi] Ojo in the game when he spoke to him on the pitch, and he was really smart in his defending – closing down spaces.
“I’m really happy with him today.”
On the impressive Origi, Klopp commented: “You can see what confidence can do. Divock says himself that everything was different when he came here, but he is still a very young player. Expectations were really high because he’s a highly-rated striker.
“He’s had a lot of little injuries, so the most important thing for him is to stay fit. During his last injury he built up his body strength and now everybody can see he has to wear another shirt – he doesn’t look like a kid. The first goal – what a cross, what a header, and the second goal is only possible with confidence.
“He really wanted to shoot – it was not a cross – and that was a surprise on the bench, but nice goal! He’s in a good way. He’s at the start, he has a good base, and now we have to work together.”