Daniel Sturridge believes he can score 20 goals a season if he is given a regular starting berth for Chelsea. The 23-year-old, who has been named in his club's first XI only once this season, may find a starting place easier to earn with Roy Hodgson's England, with Danny Welbeck the only other recognised striker in the squad for Wednesday's friendly in Sweden.
Roberto di Matteo fielded Sturridge from the start in the 5-4 Capital Cup win over Manchester United, in which he scored in extra time. His other 11 appearances have all been as late a replacement, as a total of 271 minutes playing time have yielded two goals.
Asked if he would be a 20-goal forward if given a run in the Chelsea side, Sturridge said: "I'd hope so. It's always difficult to say I'd score 20 goals a season. But if any player's given a regular run then you'd hope that if they're playing at a top club and given opportunities to score goals they'd be able to do that. I do believe I'm a centre-forward, I do believe I'd be able to help the team win games. Whether I can do that by scoring goals, making assists, just being there, being a physical presence – whatever I can do to help the team win I'll try and do that."
Last season Sturridge operated predominantly as a wide player. But despite switching to the central role he played before joining Chelsea, and the club only having Fernando Torres as their other main striker, his opportunities have been limited by Di Matteo's preference for the Spaniard.
Sturridge refused to admit to being surprised at his limited chances. "I don't know to be honest," he said. "I do believe I am playing as a centre forward and that is what I want. I am getting my head down and focusing on the game on Wednesday. I am not worrying about the situation at my club. I will get my opportunity at some stage and when I do have my opportunity I will show what I can do. It is difficult to judge me as a player and say my goalscoring record is this or that when I do not play regularly. Not playing regularly is the most difficult thing for anyone to handle."
Torres is a double European Champion and World Cup winner with Spain. Has he learned anything from him? "I don't really want to say I watch certain players and that helps me to become [better]," Sturridge said. "I would say that in football you take little things out of players' games and you try and replicate it in your game and for myself I like to watch all the players I watched through my youth and still watch the same players now, like Thierry Henry and Ronaldo [the Brazilian] that I idolised as youth player."
Didier Drogba, the former Chelsea striker who departed in the summer, was also an inspiration. "I do believe in myself. That's one thing I've always had," he said. "Looking at someone like Didier Drogba, for me, he's always said to me: 'Studge, it doesn't really matter about anything as long as you believe in yourself.' And that's my main strength.
"Didier told me that when I first joined the club and he continued to tell me that throughout his time there. His great strength as a footballer was the fact that he believed in himself and nobody can knock him mentally."
Sturridge also thinks he can be an England regular, even if he cannot say the same of Chelsea. "I do believe that," he said. "The England manager has made it clear that players do not have to start for their clubs to play for England. That is a huge leap of faith for players like myself who are not playing regular first-team football. If the manager had not said that statement, it would be difficult for the likes of myself and other players who are not playing week in week out like Welbeck [at Manchester United]."