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Carragher: Sturridge must start against Villarreal

Daniel Sturridge must start for Liverpool as they welcome Villarreal for Thursday's semi-final second leg Europa League clash, according to former defender Jamie Carragher.

With Liverpool facing a 1-0 deficit after the first leg, Carragher believes manager Jurgen Klopp must play his most dangerous striker from the start, despite his recent policy of rotating Sturridge to nurture him back to full fitness after a string of injuries.

"I really hope Sturridge starts on Thursday night," Carragher told the Liverpool Echo.

"Not necessarily in place of Firmino because I think he could play just behind. But for me Sturridge has to be in the team.

"Villarreal are a fantastic defensive side. They score goals but their success this season has been built on their defensive record.

"There won't be a lot of chances. And what chances there are need to be taken.

"When it comes to finishing, Sturridge is as good as anyone playing in the Europa League or the Champions League this season.

"His goal-scoring record speaks for itself. On a night when chances will be at a premium you need Daniel Sturridge out there."

Carragher rated Liverpool's chances of progressing to the final as "50-50" prior to kick-off.

"I would have really fancied us if we had held on for a 0-0 over there. But now they have a lead to try to hold on to," Carragher explained.

"At times Liverpool looked very comfortable in the first leg but they weren't able to get that away goal which would have been massive.

"It's in the balance. Villarreal are a very good side but we'll see a different Liverpool at Anfield."