Daniel Sturridge has delivered an emphatic backing of his own ability, but stressed he respects Jurgen Klopp‘s selection process at Liverpool.
Sturridge is entering his fifth year with the club, having signed at the beginning of the January transfer window in 2013, but remains at odds with some sections of the Reds’ support.
Under Klopp, he is not an automatic choice up front, with both Roberto Firmino andDivock Origi preferred at stages during the German’s tenure so far.
But speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Manchester United on Sunday, Sturridge underlined his “self-belief” that he is the best striker available to Klopp.
“I believe I’m the best striker Liverpool has; that’s my opinion. But the manager and everyone else is entitled to their opinion as well,” he said.
“You have to have your self-belief, and also it’s the manager who picks the team.
“So if in that present moment, in that specific game, he doesn’t feel I’m the best striker for the job, that’s his decision.
“You have to take it on the chin, I can’t be upset about it, I can’t take it on the chin.
Part of the reasoning behind Klopp preferring Firmino and Origi is due to Sturridge’s wavering fitness, with the 27-year-old missing six games through injury this season already.
But Sturridge refuted the claim that he is injury prone, and claimed it is his performances when fit that he should be judged on.
“I’ve played many games for Liverpool Football Club. I feel like last season I played a lot of games for the club, I finished the top scorer in all competitions for the club,” he continued.
“Last season, regardless of the number of games I play, I still will do my best on the pitch—and that’s what’s important.
“It’s not about whether you’re injured or not; it’s about, when you’re on the pitch, what you do.
“Of course, there’s 38 games in the Premier League season, and you want to be available for every single one, all the cup games, every game you want to be able to play in.
“That’s football. Every player wants to play, every player wants to be successful.
“But there’s times when you’re not fit, and it’s how you bounce back from that, how you come out of that, it’s how you rebound and put yourself out there on the football pitch.
“Every player wears their heart on their sleeve in terms of they’ll battle through injuries.
“It’s about pushing yourself to your limits for the club and I feel I’ve done that.”
Sturridge has been forced to primarily make do with substitute appearances this season, with nine of his 16 games so far coming from the bench.
He believes this does not give an accurate portrayal of his talents, with the No. 15 clearly eyeing a long-term starting role under Klopp.
“I judge myself, personally, when I’m starting games more than when I’m coming off the bench,” he said.
“Because it’s a hard task for any player, whether they’re at the end of their career, the middle of their career or when they’re young players, it’s always difficult to come on and have an impact.
“So you do your best when you do that, but I feel like when you’re starting games that’s when you can judge yourself and critique yourself more.
“But I suppose at the end of the season, when you look at your appearances it doesn’t say ‘starts’ and ‘subs’, it just says ‘appearances’.”
But given his own faith, Sturridge has the best platform to ensure he does so, and he could continue his push at Old Trafford on Sunday.