Liverpool prepared well for their FA Cup semi-final clash against Aston Villa by getting a 2-0 win over Newcastle United on Monday. This victory was achieved without striker Daniel Sturridge in the team, but manager Brendan Rodgers remains hopeful that the England international will be able to feature for the team against Villa. The two back-to-back victories – against Blackburn and Newcastle – have been very important for Liverpool, as their confidence went perilously low after the defeats against United and Arsenal. This seemed to end their hopes of a top four place, but it has been rekindled this week after the win over Newcastle.
Sturridge was initially ruled out with a hamstring injury for the month of April. This would be a catastrophe for Liverpool, as they did not have a compliment of strikers capable of scoring goals on a regular basis. However, it appears that the 25-year-old has made rapid progress from his injury and could be available for the game against Villa. He has scored four goals in 12 league appearances this campaign. While speaking about the fitness of Sturridge, Rodgers was more tightlipped about the fitness of striker Mario Balotelli. The Italian international has not featured for Liverpool since his substitute appearance against Manchester United in the 2-1 defeat.
“He will hopefully be okay for the weekend. I will know more in the week. He feels reasonably fine so we are hoping by the middle of the week we will have an indication where he is at. Mario is still ill. He was not quite fit enough (to face Newcastle). He has had on and off sickness issues,” said Rodgers. The Liverpool manager also confirmed that he does not expect Mamadou Sakho to be available until after three weeks after the French defender suffered a hamstring injury against Blackburn.