Daniel Sturridge has defended himself on Twitter after coming under an avalanche of abuse for a recent interview, in which he said the primary focus of his career was Liverpool—not England.
The in-form striker, who has been forced to miss England’s World Cup qualifiers with Moldova and Ukraine due to injury, told Liverpool’s official website that his priority is the Reds—because club form is the only ticket to a place in the England side:
I'm more worried about Liverpool and more worried about putting in good performances for us, us winning games and challenging for trophies.
That's my main ambition—it's not about playing for England.
That comes with doing the things you do for your club and if I don't play well here, I won't get the opportunity to do it there [World Cup finals].
However, Sturridge’s words have not found favour with a section of the England public, who clearly felt he was suggesting club came before country—a case of particularly unfortunate timing given his recent withdrawal from the squad.
David Kent of the Daily Mail reports that supporters instantly responded to the former Chelsea man on Twitter:
Sturridge, who has over 340,000 followers, reacted by defending his comments, insisting they had merely been taken out of context.
Don't get it twisted.... England is the pinnacle. To play for them is a dream come true. Just hoping to recover for Monday #Godisgood— Daniel Sturridge (@D_Sturridge) September 10, 2013
Some people never understand. Read the interview. If I do well for my club I will play for England. If I'm not fit I can't play...— Daniel Sturridge (@D_Sturridge) September 10, 2013
Emotions are running high among England supporters, who know their 2014 World Cup plans could be in tatters if the Three Lions lose to Ukraine on Tuesday.
Defeat would likely see England heading for the playoffs, where any number of difficult ties await.
Sturridge’s absence has left manager Roy Hodgson short for striking options, with Wayne Rooney also absent due to a gash on his head, while Danny Welbeck is suspended after his booking against Moldova.
The Liverpool man remains hopeful he can return for the Reds in Monday’s trip to Swansea, but the ongoing doubt over his thigh problem acts as proof that he did not withdraw from England duty lightly.