Liverpool boss swayed by Sturridge’s sharp pre-season form

‘In this moment he looks really good to be honest,’ says impressed Jürgen Klopp

Jürgen Klopp has been impressed by Daniel Sturridge’s pre-season and is prepared to give the striker another chance.

Last summer Liverpool were ready to offload the 28-year-old to anyone willing to pay £20 million as his poor injury record had made him unreliable. Sturridge went to West Brom on loan in January but was injured early on and managed just six appearances.

With 12 months left on his contract it seemed Sturridge’s Anfield career was over but he has looked sharp in his five friendly games and Klopp, who became frustrated by the player’s unavailability last season, is prepared to hand him a lifeline.

“We’re not in doubt – and nobody was ever in doubt – about his quality,” he said. “In this moment he looks really good to be honest. That’s cool – really cool for him and cool for us.

“[It’s] a very important moment for him. I am in talks with him, what he feels. I don’t want to make him the most physically strong player in the squad or whatever. The most physically strong player in the squad cannot play football like Daniel Sturridge and he has no possibility to be that, to be the marathon man of the team, but he can be a very decisive player.”

Sturridge could be in line to start the Premier League campaign at home to West Ham in just over a fortnight’s time with Roberto Firmino – along with new goalkeeper and fellow Brazil international Alisson – rejoining the squad only at next week’s training camp in France.

Newcastle United are close to completing the £3 million (€3.37 million) signing of Switzerland central defender Fabian Schär from Deportivo La Coruña.

Providing Schär passes the medical he underwent on Wednesday on Tyneside, the 26-year-old will become the fourth recruit of a frustrating summer transfer window in which Rafael Benítez appears increasingly unhappy at having to operate within the confines of a sell-to-buy policy.

Newcastle’s manager has entered the final year of his St James’s Park contract and is refusing to sign an extension until Mike Ashley, the club’s owner, offers him assurances over transfer budget and plans to overhaul the academy and Under-23 side. As yet there is no sign of these guarantees materialising but, thanks to a release clause in Schär’s contract triggered by Deportivo’s relegation from La Liga, he is available for £3 million.

A ball-playing defender with a reputation as a dead-ball specialist, Schär has won 42 caps for Switzerland and started all three group games at the recent World Cup finals in Russia. The former Basel and Hoffenheim defender now seems set to follow the former Sparta Prague goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, the former Swansea midfielder Ki Sung-yueng and Chelsea loanee Kenedy in moving to Tyneside this summer.

Aston Villa have confirmed that Steve Bruce will remain as manager of the Sky Bet Championship club. Bruce met with majority owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens on Wednesday and was given their full support.

The 57-year-old’s future had been under the spotlight since the pair bought a 55 per cent majority shareholding last week and former Arsenal striker and current Belgium assistant Thierry Henry had been linked with the position.

A club statement said: “Aston Villa can confirm manager Steve Bruce has met majority owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens and will continue as manager with their full support.”

Villa lost the play-off final 0-1 to Fulham last May to end hopes of a return to the Premier League.

Bruce and the Villa team travelled separately to the friendly clash with West Ham at Walsall following the meeting. Bruce met the new owners at Bodymoor Heath in the afternoon, hence the separate travel arrangements.

Jack Grealish’s future remains on the agenda for Bruce and the owners. Villa still need to find £40 million to comply with Financial Fair Play rules, with midfielder Grealish their most saleable asset.