Daniel Sturridge tops the Premier League scoring charts and will lead England's line against Germany. Ralph Ellis wonders why the Liverpool star hasn't earned more praise.
"Has anybody had a better start to the campaign than Sturridge? I don’t think so – and yet he is as long as 23.022/1 in the market for who ultimately earns the accolade from his fellow pros."
So what's wrong with Daniel Sturridge? I only ask because it seems I'm missing the big fault that the professionals can all see.
I've been looking at a striker who has scored eight Premier League goals in 11 games this season, with a mixture of instinctive finishing and brilliant skill. I've watched a player who has also made telling contributions to England's final two crucial World Cup qualifying matches. I've seen a 24-year-old who has the selfish eye for a chance of all good goalscorers, but is also willing to put in the hard yards to support his team mates.
He scores important goals, not just the final one or two in games that are already won. And he has an excellent disciplinary record with only one yellow card all this season, and just six spread across the previous two.
His performances this term haven't been a flash in the pan, either. He got 10 goals in 14 games after arriving at Liverpool last January. And while his partnership with Luis Suarez is blossoming into one of the most exciting elements of this season, it isn't even that he is relying on the mercurial Uruguayan to set up all his chances. He was carrying Liverpool's campaign while the other half of the SAS was still serving his suspension.
In short I thought he should be a contender for the PFA Player of the Year award. Yes, Aaron Ramsey (3.9) has had a great start for Arsenal and Sergio Aguero (7.613/2) has got back to something like his old form for Manchester City. Suarez himself (4.77/2) has hit the ground running after finishing his ban.
But has anybody had a better start to the campaign than Sturridge? I don't think so - and yet he is as long as 23.022/1 in the market for who ultimately earns the accolade from his fellow pros.
When England beat first Montenegro then Poland last month to earn their place in Brazil next summer, it was hardly surprising that Wayne Rooney stole all the headlines. He got the key first goal in both matches, and gave glimpses that he is returning to his best, that he could finally live up to the thrilling potential unveiled back during Euro 2004 when he first burst onto the big stage.
But just as exciting for the prospects of Roy Hodgson's team next summer was the potential of him forming a genuine partnership with Sturridge. It was the willing runs of the Liverpool man which did much to open up space for Rooney to play.
Is it because he's English, and been around for a while at Chelsea without being given the chance to hit the heights, that we are taking him for granted? Romelu Lukaku has attracted far more praise, and yet has scored three League goals less.
This is a big week for a boy whose attitude has been questioned in the past, but who seems to be growing up fast. Eyes will be on him against Germany at Wembley - he is 3.412/5 to score at any time.
He then has the drama of a Merseyside derby at Goodison to come on Saturday lunchtime. Get a goal or more in both of those games and those PFA odds should come tumbling - unless, of course, I really am missing something.