Stamford Bridge caretaker admits he's spoken to the England international about being less selfish but hails his 'incredible ability' and predicts central role for 22-year-old
The 22-year old has often been accused of being selfish in his pursuit of scoring goals, as seen in the 5-2 win over Leicester City in the FA Cup when £50m strike partner Fernando Torres cut a frustrated figure at the England international's reluctance to pass.
Chelsea are 5/4 with Bet365 to finish in the Premier League's top four this season.
Although the former Manchester City man is Chelsea's leading goalscorer this term, he has only netted once in 2012 and Di Matteo has admitted he wants Sturridge to sacrifice his individual instincts for the good of the team.
“I spoke to Daniel individually, yes - like all the other players," Di Matteo told the Daily Mirror.
"He’s a fantastic player with some incredible ability and he will be very important for us.
“There are not many players with that ability, and we sometimes forget he’s a very young player, and young man, who is really in his first full season here.
“Daniel is still developing. Just look at his age and the number of games he has played. He needs to become a better player, but he has some incredible talent. He can make the team better and help us win more games.
“I think he has the ability to play through the middle.
"I wouldn’t think it’s difficult to play for the team. But every player has to put individual quality for the team for benefit of team. That way, the team becomes stronger.”
Chelsea skipper John Terry will miss his side's Premier League encounter with Manchester City on Wednesday but is likely to be fit to face London rivals Tottenham at the weekend.
After Didier Drogba rolled back the years to produce a superb performance against Napoli in the Champions League last week and Torres netting twice against Leicester, Di Matteo now has a selection headache for his side's Premier League trip to Eastlands.
However with Ashley Cole, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Ramires and Drogba all expected to return, Di Matteo is keeping his cards close to his chest.“To have that firepower in the team is fantastic and we will try to do our best to exploit the good form of both of them," he said.
“I’m not going to tell you who is playing. We have a fantastic squad and it hurts to leave players out of that calibre, but I can only fill 11 positions and I will pick the team that can beat Manchester City.
“There is pressure on City and [manager] Roberto Mancini, although he is used to that pressure from his time at Inter - he looks fine to me. But we hope we can exploit it.
"We’re all under pressure - they need points, we need points, other teams need points to avoid relegation. Every team has targets and are under pressure to achieve them.
“I don’t know if it’s psychologically damaging for them to be behind United when they were ahead for so long.
"We have to prevent them expressing themselves.”