Micah Richards has compared Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli to former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Sturridge struggled with injury problems for most of his time at Liverpool and moved to Trabzonspor in Turkey in the summer transfer window.
There is no doubt regarding the talent and quality of the 30-year-old striker, but lack of match fitness hampered him from playing to the best of his ability at Anfield.
Former Manchester City and Aston Villa right-back Richards, 31, has compared Alli to Sturridge.
Richards said about Alli on BBC Radio 5 Live: “I just think that he’s obviously had his injuries, he’s similar to Daniel Sturridge when he had his hip injury.
“He seemed as though he wasn’t really sprinting, just in case something went. Just because you’re back training, doesn’t mean you’re back fit – you have to get match fit. At times, they’ve thrown him in a little bit too soon. He’s not played well, he’s almost like the scapegoat at times.”
Richards added: “I would sympathise with him, only because he’s still carrying knocks. For me, he’s not fully fit yet.
“It just feels like with Dele at the moment, he’s got a lot of stress in his body, he’s trying to protect himself, he’s not running free-flowing, he’s not the Dele Alli that we’ve all seen, he’s not the third man running and arriving into the box.”
Need to improve
Alli has been off his game for a while now, and there is no doubt that the England international needs to step his game.
The 23-year-old is one of the best and most promising young midfielders in Europe, and there is no doubt over his quality and class.
Tottenham are struggling in the Premier League at the moment and may not progress to the knockout round of the Champions League.