Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge has slammed critics who have questioned his commitment to regaining full fitness.
The 26-year-old has endured a torrid time with injuries over recent seasons, although he has recovered to enjoy a sustained first-team run and has eight goals in 12 Premier League appearances this term ahead of Sunday’s match at Swansea City.
Nevertheless, Sturridge was an unused substitute for Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final at Villarreal last week, while the emergence of Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane means his status at international level has also taken a hit.
Some observers have questioned the former Manchester City and Chelsea player’s desire to overcome his physical problems, but the forward strongly rejected those assertions.
“I don’t pay any attention to it whatsoever. The majority, probably 95 per cent of the people who talk and say things about me, don’t actually know me,” Sturridge told the Daily Mail.
“Even some of the people who’ve played with me don’t actually know me. Because they’re a team-mate, [it] doesn’t necessarily mean we’re friends or we talk outside of work. But anybody who knows me will know that I’m one of the most ambitious people out there.
“And for people to say, ‘Oh, he don’t try enough or he doesn’t want to be fit…’, do you honestly believe I’d want to just be sat down picking up wages when I’ve dreamt of being a professional footballer ever since I can remember?
‘I’m not here going out for nightlife. I can’t go out, really. I’m not here having fun with all my mates. I live alone. My family’s close but all my friends live down south. I’m here to work. I’m not here to have fun. I’m not here for a jolly-up. Liverpool, for me, is work.
“It’s a job. It’s something I take seriously and for anyone to question my integrity, it’s disrespectful. The people who say those things should take a long, hard look at themselves and probably think before they speak.”
Sturridge also moved to play down suggestions his relationship with Klopp is troubled.
“For me, our relationship is okay, there are no problems on my part,” he added. “I’ve never said a bad word about the boss and never will say a bad word because he’s the manager of Liverpool and he’s the voice of the club.
“He’s the person who represents the club on a global stage, so you have to respect the man and the things he says.”
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