DANIEL STURRIDGE revealed he had to overcome a bout of nerves before enjoying the ‘perfect start’ to his Liverpool career in their hard-fought 2-1 win over Mansfield Town in the FA Cup.
The Reds’ £12million signing took less than eight minutes to open his account with a cool finish before Luis Suarez’s controversial second goal at Field Mill.
Sturridge hadn’t played since mid-November but was delighted to get 56 minutes under his belt against the non-league side.
“It was enjoyable,” he said.
“It was good to get to know my team-mates and great for fitness. It’s the perfect start for me to score on my debut.
“I was quite nervous before the game. It’s weird because I don’t usually get nervous.
“People will think ‘what? you were nervous against Mansfield?’ But this is the kind of game where you are kind of expected to score and you have to score.
“I’m just thankful to God for making it happen. Without him none of this would be possible.
“I’m delighted with the win. The FA Cup has been kind to me in the last few years and I’m happy to have helped my team-mates win the game.
“I was quite tired out there as I haven’t been playing or training much over the last few months. But I’m grateful to the boss for giving me nearly 60 minutes.”
Sturridge, who praised Jonjo Shelvey for the pass which created his goal, could have had more glory but the striker insists he will get even better as he builds up his fitness.
“I haven’t had much training,” he added.
“I’ve only had three sessions with the lads and then a light session on Saturday before the game.
“I am lacking sharpness in front of goal. I missed a few chances but hopefully once I get my fitness those ones that I missed will go in.
“It was a great pass from Jonjo – the vision and the weight of the pass for the goal was perfect. He made it quite easy for me to take the shot first time.
“We haven’t had much time to work on stuff but we were both on the same wavelength. We get on well on and off the field.
“All the lads have been great with me and they’ve made it easy for me to settle in over the past few days.
“I want to say thank you to them for making me feel so welcome. I look forward to playing with them for many years to come.”
Mansfield were left furious by the fact that Suarez’s goal stood after referee Andre Marriner missed his handball. The Stags pulled one back through Matt Green late but the Reds held on.
“I didn’t have a great view of our second goal from the bench and I haven’t seen it again,” added Sturridge.
“I didn’t see exactly what happened but the goal stood and we’re through to the next round which is what really matters.
“Credit to Mansfield because they came back at us towards the end. It’s the FA Cup and against teams in the FA Cup anything can happen.
“You expect us to beat a Conference team but football is not like that. It’s full of surprises and we’re just delighted to go through.”
Oldham up next
LIVERPOOL will face Oldham at Boundary Park in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
The Reds beat the Latics 5-1 at Anfield in the third round of last year’s competition.