AVB: Sturridge is our Hulk
Blues boss Villas-Boas looks set to unleash Sturridge on former club Bolton on Sunday, with the 22-year-old having been given a breather since injuring his knee in the Carling Cup win over Fulham a week and a half ago. Sturridge was forced to bide his time after moving to Stamford Bridge two years ago and admitted before Villas-Boas' appointment this summer that he would consider leaving in search of first-team football. But he capped a stellar loan spell at the Reebok Stadium at the second half of last season and an impressive European Under-21 Championship for England with a stunning pre-season for his parent club. Sturridge has carried that form into the new campaign and is now being widely tipped for a senior international call for his country's final European Championship qualifier in Montenegro on Friday. He would go with a ringing endorsement from Villas-Boas, who sees similarities between the forward and the man whose 36 goals helped the Chelsea's boss' Porto side clinch an incredible four trophies last season. "I'm not sure how his career will evolve," said Villas-Boas ahead of the Blues' Barclays Premier League trip to the Reebok Stadium. "He offers me a little bit of the characteristics that I had with Hulk when I was at Porto." Sturridge has previously expressed a desire to play as a central striker but Villas-Boas sees him exclusively on the right or left of an attacking trio for the time being. "For this season, we won't use Daniel in the striker position," he said, revealing that space was reserved for the suspended Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Romelu Lukaku. "We have been using Daniel on the right, coming inside. "I spoke about it with Daniel in the beginning when I brought him over. Daniel is extremely happy in that position as well. "I think it favours his natural and technical abilities and his pace, so he's competing for right and left winger positions. "I use him on the right so, on his left foot, he likes to come in, likes to decide his next action. "The good thing is he creates unpredictability when he goes onto his right foot." Sturridge has always been quick but he has now added an end product to his game, both in terms of creativity and finishing. Villas-Boas said: "You have pacey players but, in the end, what is more important is that, when you arrive to the ball, being able to do something with it and control it. "He's a player who offers that. "His abilities have been showing since last year, at Bolton and now at Chelsea and also at the European Under-21 Championship. "He's a player that we count on like all the others." The decision to loan out Sturridge was made by Villas-Boas' predecessor, Carlo Ancelotti, but it was one endorsed by the new Chelsea manager. "To my decision-making, it was important," said Villas-Boas who rejected Bolton boss Owen Coyle's advances to extend the arrangement. "To his formation as a player, I think it was important as well. "Not that he didn't have that kind of ability before but every player evolves after a confident year like he had at Bolton, where he was scoring goals week in, week out. "That's why we thought that his qualities were up to the standard of Chelsea's squad and we brought him home." And what about being up to the standard of Fabio Capello's England? "If he decides that Daniel can add to his squad, I'm sure he won't hesitate," said Villas-Boas, who insisted Sturridge's primary focus was on succeeding at Chelsea before thinking about breaking into England's Euro 2012 plans. "I think his motivation is to win titles for the club. "When he goes to the England environment - which for Daniel has been the under-21s and the youth levels - he will turn his focus of course on England's objectives."