Rodgers claims Sturridge can be 'world class'

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has backed in-form striker Daniel Sturridge to develop into a 'world-class player'.

Sturridge, 24, has combined with Luis Suarez to score 42 Premier League goals between them and lead Liverpool into title contention, with Rodgers' side second and seven points behind Chelsea.

Rodgers, who signed the England international in January 2013, believes the former Chelsea striker can become one of the world's best players.

"He's a very humble young man, he's obviously got a lot of belief and confidence in the way he plays, which all the best players have," Rodgers said ahead of Liverpool's clash against Manchester United on Sunday.

"He's a very mature young guy who's come into the football club and scored the goals he has, shown world-class traits and hopefully over these next couple of years (he can improve even more).

"I said when he came in that our aim was in three years to make you a world-class player because he has the tools to be that, other players can be good players but he's got all the traits to be world class.

"He's also got that humility but he needs to keep proving it on the field to be judged at that level but he's certainly deserving of it because he has been world class."

Rodgers said he had seen Sturridge make 'huge strides in his abilities and his mental fitness' since joining Liverpool.

Liverpool could welcome back midfielder Lucas Leiva and defender Mamadou Sakho for the trip to Old Trafford.

Lucas' return puts pressure on captain Steven Gerrard, who has been deployed in the deep-lying midfield role in the Brazilian's absence.

Rodgers said Gerrard had performed superbly in the role.

"We put Steven Gerrard in the position and Steven has been brilliant," Rodgers said.

"I look at Steven Gerrard when he went into that role and I don't think there's too many players in the world who could have done what he did.

"He's got those great attacking instincts and has showed over many years that he is a world class player."