Daniel Sturridge is relishing a prominent role with Gareth Southgate’s England and hopes to continue repaying the interim manager’s faith.
Sturridge has been limited to 19 minutes of Premier League action over the last month having fallen out of Jurgen Klopp’s preferred XI at Liverpool.
It is a different story for the 27-year-old at international level, where he has started all three games of Southgate’s tenure and opened the scoring in a 3-0 win over Scotland in Friday’s World Cup qualifier, having done likewise versus Malta at Wembley last month.
The return to fitness of Tottenham striker Harry Kane led to speculation Southgate would jettison Sturridge following the uninspired 0-0 draw in Slovenia, but he stuck with his man and was rewarded after 24 minutes of the derby clash
“It’s great to contribute with goals because all strikers want to score goals,” Sturridge said, having instinctively headed home Kyle Walker’s cross at the near post.
“He [Southgate] has got a lot of faith in me and I’m trying to repay him as best I can by performing well in the games.
“We beat Scotland, it was a big game for us.
“It’s important for every player, for the manager to have confidence in them. So it’s great.”
Such confidence has not always been evident on Klopp’s part, but Sturridge refuted the view of him not being a team player has caused him to fall down the pecking order at Anfield.
“I don’t worry about that, it’s an unfair opinion,” he said. “I feel that I contribute to the team with assists and goals. It doesn’t really matter what people say to me.”
Sturridge insists his work on the field for England is dedicated firmly to the art of centre-forward play and giving the team an attacking outlet.
“I feel that if I’m coming short and I’m trying to get involved in the game then there’s no one up front in the forward positions,” he explained. “It’s important to have a focal point of the team.
“If I drop deep and come on the ball, do skills and take people on there’s no one in the centre-forward position.
“That’s where I need to be, in between the lines, threatening the centre-halves, pushing them back and creating space for the other people.”
Tuesday’s friendly against Spain at Wembley is Southgate’s last of a temporary spell in the wake of Sam Allardyce’s dramatic downfall.
The former Middlesbrough boss is a strong favourite to take on the position full-time and Sturridge revealed he has brought a personal touch and an arm around the shoulder to his work with a Three Lions squad still carefully rebuilding from their Euro 2016 debacle.
“He speaks with everyone, he speaks with every single player in the squad and I’m not just saying that,” he added.
“Every single player throughout the camp, not just myself. He likes that relationship.”
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