Liverpool remain without striker Daniel Sturridge as they face a demanding week

Brendan Rodgers’ side face Newcastle, Real Madrid and Chelsea in quick succession

Brendan Rodgers

expects

Daniel Sturridge

to miss Liverpool’s most demanding week of the season as they play Newcastle United,

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Real Madrid

and

Chelsea

in quick succession.

Sturridge has not featured for Liverpool since 31 August because of a thigh injury suffered on England duty plus a calf strain sustained before his first full training session back with the club.

The Liverpool manager initially estimated that the striker’s latest absence would last about “two to four weeks” but a fortnight on, and perhaps unsurprisingly given Sturridge’s fitness record, he believes there is little prospect of a rapid return.

Liverpool travel to a rejuvenated Newcastle today before facing Real Madrid in their Champions League return at the Bernabéu on Tuesday. The unbeaten Premier League leaders, Chelsea, visit Anfield on Saturday week but Rodgers is preparing for all three games without his leading striker.

“I don’t think he will be fit,” said the manager in relation to the next three matches. “We will work with him and hopefully we will get that bit of luck when he comes back. When he comes back hopefully we will have him for the rest of the season. When you have that talent you have to keep yourself as fit and available as you can.”

Rodgers appeared bemused by Sturridge’s suggestion during an interview on Wednesday that his frequent muscle-injury problems may be hereditary. “I can only concentrate on his injury now and what my medical team here, who are fantastic, are telling me,” he said.

Three matches

Liverpool have struggled for form during Sturridge’s lay-off and Mario Balotelli’s 86th-minute equaliser against Swansea City in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday was their first goal in three matches at Anfield.

“Gradually, as each day goes by, I sense we are getting better,” said Rodgers .

"Fabio Borini was excellent, a real threat, and put in a wonderful cross for Mario's goal. And Rickie Lambert, who hasn't had many opportunities, his goals will come."

Meanwhile, Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard has cast doubt on his Anfield future with the 34-year-old still to agree terms on a new contract and his deal due to expire at the end of the season.

“I will play beyond this season,” he said. “We will have to wait and see if that’s at Liverpool or somewhere else. That’s Liverpool’s decision.”

Guardian Service