Sturridge 'highly unlikely' to face Madrid - Rodgers

Daniel Sturridge is not expected to feature against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, despite travelling with the Liverpool squad.

The England striker has not played for the Merseyside club since the end of August, having sustained a thigh problem while on international duty.

Following an initial six-week lay-off, Sturridge suffered another setback in October and was ruled out for a further two to four weeks.

However, having made the trip with the squad to the Spanish capital ahead of Tuesday's Group B clash, speculation has intensified that Sturridge will make his comeback at the Santiago Bernabeu, but boss Brendan Rodgers insists that is improbable.

"It's highly unlikely he'll be fit," Rodgers said of Sturridge at a media conference on Monday.

"I've brought all the players out [to Madrid].

"This game and the game at the weekend [against Chelsea in the Premier League] are very important for us, and it's a sign that we're very much together."

Liverpool sit level with Ludogorets and Basel on three points after three matches in Group B - Real are clear on nine after winning 3-0 at Anfield last month - and Rodgers believes a last-16 place is a realistic aim.

"We're really looking forward to these big games," he added. "We see them [Real] as an opportunity.

"We're still in the hunt in the group, they're probably the best team in the world at the moment, but we can challenge them."