Daniel Sturridge scored 27 goals last season but he will be happy if he finds the net just once at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Sturridge's excellent form for Liverpool almost catapulted the Anfield club to their first title since 1990.
The 24-year-old, who formed a lethal partnership with Luis Suarez, was the leading English goal scorer in the English Premier League with 21 goals. The former Chelsea man has so far struggled to take that form into the international arena, though.
Sturridge has three goals in ten England games, but one of those was a penalty, another came against Denmark and his first was against San Marino. And Sturridge admits only the very best strikers are able to cut it at World Cups so he knows he has a tough task ahead of him.
"The World Cup is a different level of football to the Premier League," Sturridge said. "I looked at Gary Lineker's stats the other day and he scored ten goals in two World Cups (six in '86 and four in '90) I was like 'wow, that's a huge task to even reach anywhere near that'. Ten goals in two World Cups is incredible. If I can score even one goal I'd be happy because I have come a long way."
Sturridge has scored 36 goals in 49 appearances since he swapped London for Merseyside - a remarkable return for a player released by Manchester City and then denied a main striking role at Chelsea. "I've just been given the opportunity since I came to Liverpool - and that's what I've asked for in the past," Sturridge added.
The World Cup is a different level of football to the Premier League.
"That's always what I've said - give me that opportunity and then I can try and show what I can do. Thankfully I have had a decent season but I still want to improve."
Sturridge has his strike partner Suarez to thank for a lot of those goals. The England man enjoys a "telepathic" partnership with the Uruguayan, who will come up against the Three Lions in Sao Paulo on 19 June 19 provided he overcomes a knee injury.
Building a relationship with Rooney
Sturridge's task over the next few weeks is to develop a similar bond with Wayne Rooney. "We get along really well off the field and we get on well on the field too," said Sturridge, who has started just five games with Rooney. "We get along.
"He is a senior professional. He has experienced European Championships and World Cups. For me to be around players like him, Stevie (Gerrard), and Lamps (Frank Lampard) is great. I'm always open-eared, like a sponge just taking it in."
Sturridge was in an optimistic mood as he talked to the media at England's training base in the Algarve earlier this week. Only a few days earlier he was part of the Liverpool team that were just pipped to the title by Manchester City. Had captain Gerrard not slipped against Chelsea last month, he may have ended up leading the Reds to their first title win in nearly a quarter of a century.
Sturridge insists all that has been consigned to history now, though. "That was all boxed off the day after we lost it. You've got to move on," Sturridge said. "It wasn't a great feeling after the game but we set ourselves the target of getting into the Champions League and we achieved that, so everybody's content. Sometimes when you get so close it's disappointing. But at the same time I've got the World Cup ahead of me and I'm looking forward to it."