SWANSEA, United Kingdom (AFP) – Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has backed in-form striker Daniel Sturridge to add to his rising reputation when his side play Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Monday.
England striker Sturridge has hit 16 goals in 20 matches since the Reds bought him from Chelsea for ??12 million ($19 million, 14.3 million euros) in January.
The 24-year-old's goals have fired Liverpool to three wins from their first three matches and earned him the Player of the Month award for August.
The forward struggled to get in the starting line-up at Manchester City and Chelsea, but his new boss expects him to shine now he is getting game-time.
"You never know how it is going to go but I felt if you gave him an opportunity ... I think he has shown in his career if he is given the opportunity he is a natural goalscorer," said Rodgers.
"At this stage of his career, aged 24, he has all the things to his game to be a top striker.
"Since coming here he has had the confidence he is going to play and we work on him on a daily basis -- on and of the field -- to make him the best he can be.
"Standards are set throughout European football now and if you want to be a top striker you have to get in the goals."
Sturridge missed England's midweek World Cup qualifier against Ukraine due to a thigh strain, but has been declared fit for Monday's game.
Rodgers stressed that Sturridge was disappointed to miss out on playing for England, but pointed out that "the medical experts made the decision, not Daniel Sturridge.
"He should not be held up, if he does play on Monday, as being someone who has turned down his country because that is not the case at all."
But opposing manager Michael Laudrup, whose side beat West Brom 2-0 in their last league outing, expressed surprise at Sturridge's quick recovery from injury.
"I was a little surprised," the Swansea chief said.
"When we talk about England and young players and the importance of the game (in Ukraine), I was surprised to read less than 48 hours after such a crucial game that he is fit to play against us.
"I thought there were some rules that if you were injured you couldn't just play with your team three of four days later."