LIVERPOOL striker Daniel Sturridge is unlikely to play again until the new year after scans yesterday revealed the extent of a fresh thigh injury.
The England forward has been sidelined since September and only returned to full training last week but has now been ruled out for a further six weeks after limping out of training at Liverpool’s Melwood complex on Tuesday.
Sturridge originally sustained a thigh strain while on England duty and has not featured for Liverpool since the Reds comfortably dispatched Tottenham 3-0 at White Hart Lane at the end of August.
The setback will come as a crushing blow to Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers who had hoped to welcome the former Chelsea hitman back for the Anfield club’s trip to the capital on Sunday to face Crystal Palace.
That plan now lies in tatters with the 25-year-old set to miss a further nine Premier League clashes, two crucial European fixtures as Liverpool bid to revive their flagging Champions League aspirations and a Capital One Cup quarter-final at Bournemouth.
Rodgers has already been without Sturridge, who scored 25 goals last term, for 14 matches of a disjointed campaign during which Liverpool have rarely threatened to replicate last season’s scintillating form.
During that time the Merseyside outfit have recorded just four victories, currently sit 11th in the league table and have failed to solve the conundrum posed by the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona in the summer.
Liverpool scored 101 goals in the league last season although the story has a different narrative this time around, with just 14 league goals scored so far and strikers Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert all failing to fire.
Italy’s Balotelli has scored twice since his £16m move from AC Milan, while former Southampton forward Lambert and Borini are yet to find the net.