Jürgen Klopp's assertion that Daniel Sturridge is in his best shape for two years is backed up by the Liverpool striker's current positivity around pre-season.
“Of course,” he told Liverpoolfc.com in response, without a second’s hesitation.
At his press conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday, the manager had highlighted the No.15’s level of fitness as he aims to build on his form in the final weeks of 2016-17.
Sturridge gave himself the greatest opportunity of quickly picking up the baton this summer by maintaining his condition during the break, with the objective of playing a significant role in the Reds’ pursuit of success.
And with four-and-a-half years at Liverpool now behind him – making the Englishman one of the longest-serving players in the squad – he wants his influence to go far beyond performances on the pitch.
“I worked individually over the summer, worked my socks off in LA on holiday. It was a good vibe, good to be getting those metres in the gym and those types of things,” said Sturridge.
“Coming here and working with the gaffer and his team, and ensuring I’m in the best shape possible, is important for me going forward to help the team win trophies.
“I’m feeling good, I’m enjoying myself. I’m enjoying having banter with the boys and helping the new players settle in. It’s important.
“I was speaking to Phil [Coutinho] – we are probably two of the longest-serving players in this group. It’s funny to find ourselves in that situation. We were having a laugh about it.
“It’s our job to help the new players bed in and also to push ourselves to get to the next level. That’s the most important thing. The manager certainly tries to get every bit of juice out of the orange that he can. It’s a beautiful feeling.”
LFCTV GO: Sturridge loving vibe in pre-season
The 27-year-old continued: “We’ve got a good group of lads.
“I know a lot of teams say that but there are no big-time players here at all; everyone is humble about their business, everyone is here to succeed, everyone wants to win trophies, everyone wants to be the best they can be individually.
“The manager is pushing us to be the best we can be, as well as his staff. It’s a group effort, including everyone behind the scenes – they’re all helping us to get through this difficult period in pre-season.
“The vibe in the camp is the best it has been for a long time, it’s great.”
Sturridge and co travelled to Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground for a running session under the floodlights on Tuesday night, as part of their preparations for the Premier League Asia Trophy clash with Crystal Palace.
Watch the Reds train in the Hong Kong rain on LFCTV GO
With temperatures still touching 30 degrees at 10pm in Hong Kong the task was a serious test for the players at this early stage of pre-season.
And in providing insight on the challenges involved, Sturridge explained why endurance is all in the mind – and, ultimately, crucial work ahead of the new campaign.
“We did 1,000 metre runs. There were specific speeds for specific groups,” he said.
“It’s a mental test pretty much; you get tired and you’ve just got to keep going, you’ve got your mates next to you. It’s difficult but it’s in the bank.
“It’s a constant battle with yourself – you’re in a boxing match in your head pretty much. You’ve just got to keep pushing yourself because you’ve got your mates next to you; they’re trying their best to keep you going and you’re trying your best to keep them going. Even if people are in different groups to you and they’re falling in behind, you’re pushing them on to catch up with the group they’re in as well.
“It’s a team effort even though it’s individual. It’s a mental battle getting round there but it’s important to get the kilometres in for the games.”
Liverpool play two fixtures in the Premier League Asia Trophy this week, beginning against Crystal Palace today.
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