Wayne Rooney might have more international strikes and Steven Gerrard might be a bigger name across world football, but it is Daniel Sturridge that can make the difference for England this summer and the Liverpool man looks like a sound bet to score the Three Lions’ first World Cup goal in Brazil.
The former Manchester City forward is priced up at 5/2 to bag the first goal of England’s campaign and he looks to have the edge over Rooney, the 9/4 favourite, Gerrard at 6/1 and Danny Welbeck at 9/1.
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Sturridge had a great season for Liverpool and has struck first for England in two of his last four appearances.
The former Bolton loanee has been in sensational goalscoring form for Liverpool ever since making the switch from Chelsea in January 2013 and his 21 Premier League goals this term put him behind only clubmate Luis Suarez on the top scorer’s list for 2013/14.
That form has seen Sturridge establish himself as England’s number one striker with four goals in 11 caps, the last two of which have been his nation’s opener in matches against Denmark and Peru.
Rooney has more World Cup red cards than he does goals.
The Manchester United forward is still a player that England’s Group C opponents will fear, but his inconsistent form for club and country and terrible World Cup record mean he shouldn’t be backed at 9/4.
In truth, Rooney owes his country a big World Cup but history suggests that may be beyond him, with the former Everton prodigy flattering to deceive on the biggest stage of all, failing to score in either 2006 or 2010 and being sent off the in the quarter-finals against Portugal eight years ago.
Add in the question mark about where exactly he will perform against Italy, either out wide or behind Sturridge, and it all makes Rooney a poor favourite.
Sturridge is guaranteed a place in an England’s team that in general lacks goals.
With the exception of Rooney, whose international record is a very respectable 38 goals from 90 appearances, Sturridge looks like he is the only guaranteed source of goals for Roy Hodgson’s men.
With Frank Lampard (29 goals) unlikely to get much action and Gerrard (21) set to be deployed in a much deeper role than in his pomp, Danny Welbeck is the next most prolific goal-getter in the squad with eight goals from 22 games.
But with the Manchester United player unsure of a starting berth and with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has doubts over his fitness, and Gary Cahill, a central defender, England’s next top scorers on three international goals, the flourishing Sturridge can be the one to strike first.