Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he never doubted Daniel Sturridge’s quality as he prepares to look to the forward to seal a top-four finish.
Sturridge has again battled a series of injuries this season, scoring just two Premier League goals in 18 appearances – although just five have been starts.
Wins over West Ham and Middlesbrough to finish the campaign will be enough for Liverpool – who sit third – to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Ahead of a trip to the London Stadium on Sunday, Klopp said Sturridge was fit and available should he be needed.
“For me, there was not a second of doubt about Daniel Sturridge,” he told UK newspapers.
“For all of us it was unlucky that at important moments he was not available. That was not his fault, it was not my fault, it was only the situation.
“I only think about now, at this moment, and I trust him 100 per cent. He’s an instinctive footballer and a fantastic striker.
“For us it’s good news that he’s now available. Three or four weeks ago, I was not sure that it would happen. Now he’s there, and that’s all good.”
Sturridge could be handed a start against West Ham, a club he has been linked to, with Roberto Firmino in doubt due to injury.
Klopp said the timing of the England international’s availability was ideal.
“Daniel is a wonderful option to have but it is all about being fit or not. It is not the name we bring on the pitch, it is the player, the human being, in this specific shape,” he said.
“When he was fit he was always a real, real, real option for us. And it is again now like this. It is really good timing.”