Sturridge can`t wait for first taste of World Cup

AFP| Last Updated: May 31, 2014, 16:59 PM IST

London: England forward Daniel Sturridge admits he can`t wait to get started at the World Cup after cementing his place with a majestic goal in the 3-0 win over Peru.

Sturridge produced a strike good enough to grace the World Cup final, let alone a low-key friendly, as his sublime curler into the top corner ended Peru`s stubborn resistence late in the first half of Friday`s clash at Wembley.

It was the Liverpool striker`s fourth goal in 11 appearances for England and his third in his last five starts, making it almost certain he will feature in the starting line-up when Roy Hodgson`s team begin their World Cup campaign against Italy in the sweltering tropical heat of Manaus on June 14.

Before the big kick-off in Brazil, Hodgson`s squad head to Miami for a training camp and two more friendlies against Honduras and Ecuador, but Sturridge is already thinking about how it will feel to take part in his first World Cup.

"It`s within touching distance. Everybody is looking forward to it," Sturridge said.

"It`s going to be a great time for everybody. It`s my first World Cup and I`m looking forward to embracing everything that it brings.

"I understand that it is a huge occasion. It is the pinnacle of everyone`s careers and I can`t wait to get there and be a part of what England are trying to do."

Sturridge has emerged as one of the most lethal hitmen in the Premier League this season and has had no problems transferring that form onto the international stage.

Following his match-winner against Denmark in England`s previous friendly in March, this was a real statement of intent from Sturridge.

But the soft-spoken 24-year-old was keen to deflect the plaudits and insisted he would happily sacrifice individual praise for the team to do well in Brazil.

"I was pleased but it isn`t about myself, it`s about the team and working as a unit," he said.

"Everybody takes praise from this game. The defence kept a clean-sheet and the midfield worked tirelessly. It was great preparation for the Italy game."

Given England`s tough group, which includes Uruguay and Costa Rica as well as Italy, and the team`s repeated underachievement at major tournament, there is little expectation England will return home with their first World Cup crown since 1966.

But Sturridge sees parallels with the way Liverpool ignored the critics to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League this season.

"There are no real favourites, everyone`s got a chance, just like the Premier League," he said.

"Last season no one would have said Liverpool would be challenging and have a chance of winning the title, so regardless of whether we have pressure or if people think we will or won`t win it, that doesn`t matter."

Sturridge now has 27 goals for club and country this term and Steven Gerrard, his captain with England and Liverpool, knows his side will need more magic for the striker to thrive in Brazil.

"That will do wonders for his confidence," Gerrard said.

"If we are going to do well in this World Cup and progress in the tournament, we need our strikers to produce moments like that. He delivered and I`m pleased for him."

Gerrard struck a note of caution as England prepared to fly out to Miami however, insisting there is still work to be done to improve on the team`s low-key performance against minnows Peru.

"I`m happy, I wouldn`t say I`m delighted. There are still things to work on," Gerrard said.

"We are in good shape, but as you know it`s going to get more and more difficult as we move along so it`s important we keep improving.

"It`s exciting because we are near the start of the tournament.

"But I don`t think we are ready to peak yet. We have worked really hard in training so we were a little bit leaden against Peru."