How Will They Line Up: England vs Poland
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has declared he is fully committed to England -- and has played down any notion that he is only concerned about playing for his club.
Sturridge scored a penalty on Friday as Roy Hodgson’s side beat Montenegro 4-1 at Wembley, and is set to figure on Tuesday evening as they seek the won over Poland that will secure a place at next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
But he was at the centre of a club-versus-country controversy in September when he gave an interview in which he appeared to claim that playing for Liverpool was more important than turning out for England.
The 24-year-old told Liverpool’s website at the time that his main focus was on winning trophies for his club -- but he subsequently claimed on Twitter that his remarks had been misinterpreted.
But having returned to international action, the Premier League’s leading scorer hopes he has put all controversy behind him.
In an interview with the Life+Times website, edited by American rap star Jay-Z, Sturridge said: "The worst thing was that there was an article on the Liverpool website which they posted out featuring comments I’d made a week prior, so it was taken out of context and the fans had a perception of me that I cared more about my club than my country.
"But the reason I’d said that was because the games you play for your club are the groundwork for becoming an England regular, and if I don’t play for Liverpool, I won’t get selected for England and not the other way around.
"And that was the most frustrating part for me because the fans didn’t understand how much it meant to me to play for England.
"I’ve not had the opportunity that a lot of other players have had in the past, so for me, it’s my time to do what I can do, so it was heartbreaking for me not to be involved -- especially as it could have affected my place in the two games this week, because they’re so important and the ones that are going to get us to the World Cup."
Sturridge has yet to represent the senior England side at a major tournament, although he did play for Great Britain’s football team at the London 2012 Olympics.
That experience ended in disappointment for the striker, who missed the crucial penalty in a shoot-out as Stuart Pearce’s side lost to South Korea in the quarterfinals.
He wants to be part of an England squad in Brazil, but has acknowledged that Hodgson’s men -- currently 17th in the FIFA rankings -- would be outsiders to win the trophy.
Sturridge said: "Hopefully we’ll have some success. Everybody wants success. I’m not going to lie and say that isn’t the aim, but it’s going to be difficult. For now, I just have to concentrate on first helping us get there and then being on that plane. That’s the most important thing."
The striker, signed from Chelsea for 12 million pounds in January, has scored eight times for Liverpool this season, helping them to second place in the Premier League.
And although he has played down their title chances, he believes his strike partnership with Luis Suarez can keep them at the top end of the table.
Sturridge said: "He’s a nice guy and we have great chemistry on the field, and we get on well off of it so it’s good.
"It’s easier when you’ve got somebody like Luis who can help you share the goals out and we’ve also got the likes of Steven Gerrard and Victor Moses who can pitch in.
"So there are goals throughout the team. Hopefully we can continue with the form we’ve got at the moment."