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The England international is in the form of his life as he prepares to take on Manchester United at Old Trafford, but once feared he would be lost to the game

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge admits he feared he would be "lost to the game" when he found himself consigned to the fringes of the first team at Chelsea.

Sturridge approaches Sunday's Premier League crunch clash with Manchester United in the form of his life, having scored 23 goals in 28 appearances for club and country this season.

But speaking at the World Cup Trophy Tour's stopover in London, the 24-year-old conceded there was a time when he fell out of love with the game as he struggled at Stamford Bridge.

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"It was strange because you see the World Cup as a kid and you dream about winning it – and you always imagine what it would be like to win it and touch it," he told reporters.

"But there was a time, only a couple of years ago, when I was scared I would be lost to the game. I had fallen out of love with ­football when I could not get in the team at Chelsea.

"To stand so close to the World Cup, in the hope I will be playing for it this summer, made me appreciate the journey I’ve been on."

The goals of Sturridge and strike partner Luis Suarez have propelled Liverpool into their first title race for five years - they lie second in the table, seven points behind Chelsea with a game in hand.

But despite the Reds' remarkable resurgence, the England international insists they remain outsiders to win their first league crown since the Premier League's inception.

"I think Chelsea are the favourites along with Man City," he insisted.

"We go into the game [at Old Trafford] working as hard as we can on the training field, working as hard as we can as a team on the pitch in every game up until the end of the season and we'll see where our hard work takes us when the season finishes.

"No I don't feel the pressure in terms of the derby [against United], I think it's a massive game for us as a team but we're going into it with confidence, we're going into it knowing what we have to do.

"We're confident, we've been feeling confident for a long time and we're going into the game feeling good."

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