Former English Premier League star Daniel Sturridge has given a brutally honest assessment of his battle to get match fit as he prepares to line-up for Perth Glory this A-League season.
- Daniel Sturridge is racing to be ready for Saturday’s season opener
- He says quarantine was “not the easiest thing to go through”
- The Glory faces two months on the road due to WA’s hard border
Sturridge was forced into two weeks of hotel quarantine on arrival in Western Australia, and only joined training with his teammates for the first time today, just five days out from the Glory’s A-League season opener against Adelaide United at Perth Oval.
The 32-year-old has not played a professional match since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, having been released by Turkish club Trabzonspor in early March last year.
Sturridge’s signing has sparked a rush for tickets for Saturday’s game, with the club hopeful of a crowd in excess of 16,000, despite a number of attendances of around 3,000 last season.
But the reality is those fans will most likely see the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City striker come off the bench at best.
Sturridge admitted it was going to take a while to get back to full fitness.
“It takes time, of course, it’s never a fast process,” he said.
“As a football player, you want to play games.
“It’s about whenever the manager [Glory coach Richard Garcia] feels I’m ready to perform. That’s when I’ll be involved.”
Quarantine not easy: Sturridge
Sturridge made the biggest impact of his career at Liverpool, scoring 67 goals in 160 appearances across all competitions.
With two UEFA Champions League winner medals, a Premier League title with Chelsea and 26 caps for England, he is one of the most well-credentialed signings the A-League has seen.
But since being released from Liverpool in mid-2019 he has made just 16 professional appearances, and while he said he did his best to stay fit within the confines of his hotel room, he admitted it was not the same as being on the park.
“Coming out of quarantine, laying on a bed and trying to train as much as you can on a bike or doing things inside is never the same as playing football.
“So it’s about getting match fit now and being in football shape again, and two weeks is a long time to not play football for any player.
“I’m sure with the training with the team, I’ll be able to adjust this week and then it’s up to the manager to decide how much involvement I have this weekend, but I’m excited and ready to help the team.”
Glory seeks hard border relief
With uncertainty surrounding the future of WA’s border restrictions, the Glory faces a brutal start to the season with about two months away from home, but the club is hopeful of changing that with a proposal put to the state’s health authorities.
Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers have agreed to swap home fixtures with the Glory, potentially allowing Perth to host those clubs in early January.
Under the proposal, the teams visiting from COVID hotspots would be confined to their hotels and the stadium, and spend as little time in WA as possible.
But the protocols put forward by the Glory do not involve its own players going into isolation.
The club is hopeful to learn of a decision from WA Health by the end of this week.