Skipper issues challenge to England’s deadly Daniel

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Steven Gerrard has challenged Daniel Sturridge to prove he is a top-class striker by ripping Germany apart tonight.

Sturridge has been cleared to play against the Germans at Wembley despite concerns over a thigh injury that has troubled him for the last few weeks.

Sturridge may be the most deadly English striker in the top-flight over the last 12 months, but he has struggled to establish himself in the national side due to a series of injuries.

The 24-year-old will make only his fourth international start on Tuesday when he lines up in attack with Wayne Rooney, and Gerrard says the player must seize his opportunity.

“The stage is set for Daniel to go on and prove to everyone that he’s a top-class forward,” the England and Liverpool captain said.

“You talk about his partnership with Wayne Rooney. The difference is Wayne’s done it, Daniel’s got to go and do it now. He’s certainly got the talent.’’

After four trying years at Chelsea, Liverpool signed Sturridge last January and he has repaid them handsomely since, scoring 21 goals in 29 matches.

Gerrard regards him as one of the best strikers he has played with - and from a man who has played alongside Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler - that is high praise. “No-one is a bigger fan of Daniel than me,” Gerrard added.

“He is one of the most naturally-gifted players this country has produced in a long time. His goal record is fantastic.

“I had seen bits of him before but having played and trained with him, he has gone up in my estimations.

“It’s important to have him fit and available as I know he can do a lot of damage.”

Rooney and Sturridge have only started three matches together, but Roy Hodgson is excited at the prospect of seeing the pair play together.

“I’m probably looking forward to it more than the German defence will be,” the England manager said with a smile.