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Sturridge ready to 'step up' to fill Suarez void at Liverpool - Brendan Rodgers

Daniel Sturridge
Sturridge can fill Suarez void Credit: PA Pictures

Daniel Sturridge is ready to step up and fill the sizeable gap left by Luis Suarez in the Liverpool attack - but says his team-mates need to do likewise as they begin life without the prolific Uruguayan.

Suarez finished as Liverpool's leading scorer in each of his three seasons at Anfield, including netting 31 goals in the Barclays Premier League last term as the Reds claimed a top-two spot.

However, Brendan Rodgers' men will not be able to rely on Suarez next term after the 27-year-old was sold to Barcelona for a club-record £75million this summer.

It will not be easy to replace Suarez's goals or his all-round contributions to the team, but England striker Sturridge insists there is more than enough talent at Liverpool to ensure the Reds continue moving forward.

The 24-year-old, who was second to Suarez in the Premier League scoring charts last term with 21 goals, said in several national newspapers: "It was a unique partnership, and I wish Luis all the best. We shared some good times together. We created history with our goals and became the most successful Liverpool partnership in one season.

"But in terms of next season for the goals, I'll step up myself and everyone has to. It's everyone's job to do that, the new boys who have come in as well as the players who have been there all season.

"We will move forward as a team."

Although Suarez has gone, Rodgers has been busy adding to his squad this summer, with England internationals Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana being brought in along with Emre Can, Lazar Markovic and Dejan Lovren.

Sturridge believes the future looks bright for the 18-time English champions, adding: "This is a huge club, with a lot of players who can step up. Luis has left. That's football, he's moved on.

"For me, with the signings the manager has made - exciting players, young players, up-and-comers as they call them - we are going to have that winning mentality.

"We will still have the mentality to move forward, be an exciting squad, playing attacking football and that's the Liverpool way.

"Whether we are underdogs or favourites (next season), it will not change our mentality. We are a young, hungry squad looking to put our stamp down, not just in the Premier League but Europe as well."

Manchester United had to devise new training programme for 'unfit' Luke Shaw

Luke Shaw
Not fit enough for new season Credit: PA Pictures

Manchester United have had to devise a special training programme to get Luke Shaw in shape for the start of the season.

Shaw had a fortnight off after the World Cup and he has arrived at United unfit, according to Louis van Gaal, who wants to see an improvement from the 19-year-old in the coming weeks.

Shaw, a £27million signing from Southampton, trained alone at the FedExField ahead of United's friendly against Inter Milan, which kicks off in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who all returned from World Cup duty on the same day as Shaw, were deemed fit enough to train with the squad.

But there are concerns that Shaw is off the pace.

"He needs to be fit and he is not very fit," the United boss said.

"Therefore he cannot perform what I want so first he has to be fit and has to train individually.

"I have spoken with him and we have made the programme. He agreed with me.

"We will have to see how long it takes (for him to get fit)."

Van Gaal is well within his rights to demand Shaw be fit for the season-opener against Swansea having shelled out such a big fee for the teenager.

New training programme
New United manager says Shaw not fit Credit: PA Pictures

Having sold Alexander Buttner to Dynamo Moscow, Van Gaal has little cover for the England international, so he has had to rely on Ashley Young, Reece James and Tyler Blackett while on tour in the USA.

One area where Van Gaal is blessed with options is in the final third.

Juan Mata, Rooney and Welbeck have been his first choice attack in the 3-4-1-2 formation the Dutchman says he will use for the rest of the tour.

Javier Hernandez, Will Keane and Shinji Kagawa have also featured in the two matches in the States, but Wilfried Zaha is yet to kick a ball in anger on the trip.

The England international, who joined United from Crystal Palace for £15million last summer, will have to move out from the wings into the centre if he is to play any part in the coming season.

"When we play this system he has to play as a striker otherwise he cannot play," said Van Gaal, who confirmed Zaha would come on as a substitute against Inter.

With Adnan Januzaj and Robin van Persie to come back to training following their World Cup exploits, first-team opportunities also seem limited for Hernandez.

Van Gaal distanced himself from rumours of an imminent swap deal involving the Mexican and Inter's Fredy Guarin.

"I don't know anything about it," the former Barcelona manager said.

"I cannot tell you anything about that."

Van Gaal made the task ahead of Hernandez perfectly clear though.

"When he plays he will play in striker position and he has competition with Rooney, Van Persie, Welbeck, Will Keane, Zaha - a lot players," Van Gaal added.

Van Gaal took great pleasure in responding to a question from a Mexican reporter about Hernandez's fitness.

"We, the Dutch national team, beat Mexico in the second round of the World Cup. That's why he joined the squad later than the others," said the former Holland coach with a big smile.

"I wanted to say that to you. But I believe he is fit."

One person who will not participate in the rest of the tour is right-back Rafael, who has been sent home to recover from a groin injury he suffered in training last Friday.

Van Gaal is sure the Brazilian does not require surgery, but he could not say whether he would be back for the first game of the season against Swansea on August 16.

"I don't know (if he will be fit for the new season). We will wait and see," Van Gaal said.

"The player could have stayed in America but I think the treatment at the Aon training complex is much better.

"This way he can also work out his jet lag much earlier.

"Rafa agreed with me that he should go back. He is there already and he's started training."

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