Sunderland, United Kingdom, Jan 9, 2015 (AFP) -Brendan Rodgers has no intention of gambling on the fitness of Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge at Sunderland on Saturday.
Sturridge spent the Christmas and New Year period in the United States continuing treatment on a troublesome calf injury that has sidelined him since the end of August.
But he is scheduled to fly back to the UK on Friday and should resume training this weekend.
With Liverpool having struggled for much of Sturridge's absence, Rodgers may have been tempted to put the England international straight back into his squad.
But the Reds boss will take a cautious approach and instead hopes to have Sturridge, who has scored 32 league goals in 40 career starts for his club, back in his line-up before the end of the month.
"He will be back in the country in the next 24 hours to go into final stages of his rehab," Rodgers said.
"The work he has done in America has been fantastic, specialising in the rehabilitation and he will now come back -- hopefully in some part of January.
"He is a top class player with a wonderful idea of the game and wonderful qualities. His pace is frightening and his movement.
"As a footballer he is at a great age and if he can stay fit he can lead the charge for us.
"It is difficult to focus on a date, we just need to assess. We've been monitoring his situation and he looks in a good moment."