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Daniel Sturridge ahead of schedule, could return for Liverpool on Jan. 12

Dec 31, 2013, 7:47 PM EDT

Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

Injured during Liverpool’s 3-3 draw with Everton on Nov. 23, Daniel Sturridge was supposed to miss 12 weeks. On Tuesday, however, Reds’ manager Brendan Rodgers said that timeline could be cut in half, with improvement in the England international’s injured ankle putting the team’s second-leading goal scorer on track to appear Jan. 12 against Stoke.

“Daniel is ahead of schedule,” Rodgers told reporters on Tuesday. “He might not be too far over the next few weeks. He was out running the other day doing straight-line running and he is now doing more multi-directional running and then training next week and he will have a good week of training.”

Though Liverpool have won four of seven since the 24-year-old’s injury, Sturridge’s absence has been  notable over the last week, with the Reds losing 2-1 results at Manchester City and Chelsea. Against those talented defenses, Liverpool striker Luis Suárez was shut out, a player who had scored 19 times in 12 appearances kept off the scoresheet as opposition back lines were able to focus on the Uruguayan star.

Prior to his injury, Sturridge was keeping up with Suárez’s goal scoring totals, his nine goals in 12 games still placing him fourth on the league’s scoring charts. Together, he and Suárez have accounted for 63.6 percent of Liverpool’s Premier League goals, the duo central to an attack that’s scoring 2.32 times per game.

Should he be able to return on Jan. 12, Liverpool will face only two more matches without Sturridge: Wednesday’s visit from Hull; and Oldham Athletic’s trip to Anfield Sunday in the FA Cup.