Prized Perth Glory recruit Daniel Sturridge has taken to Twitter to deny claims he pulled himself out of last week's loss to Western United, saying a four-hour flight would never stop him playing.
Sturridge made a nine-minute cameo in the season-opening draw with Adelaide United in Perth, but he was a notable omission for last Friday's clash with Western United.
Glory owner Tony Sage claimed Sturridge had ruled himself out of the match after pulling up crampy from the flight to Melbourne.
Perth Glory chief executive Tony Pignata posted a statement on Twitter on Monday to "put the record straight", and Sturridge also added his opinion.
"2 weeks in quarantine was insane! I played last week (against Adelaide) to help the team and meet the fans," Sturridge tweeted.
"It's a long season so please be patient as we build my fitness up which was always the plan. A 4hr flight would never stop me playing football."
Pignata went into more depth about the reasons why Sturridge didn't play.
"Just to put the record straight. It was not Daniel's decision not to play last weekend," Pignata wrote.
"Like any player Daniel wanted to play but we have had a plan for Daniel before he arrived to build his fitness and integrate him into the team.
"We want to have and will have the best Daniel Sturridge on the field when the time is right.
"Daniel has just recently finished two weeks in hotel quarantine and he has just started training with the squad.
"Last week, given it was a home game and a sell-out crowd Daniel played some minutes in front of our home fans.
"Daniel is no different than any other player. He will play when deemed ready by the medical team and Richie."
Before his cameo against Adelaide, Sturridge hadn't played in a professional match since February 22, 2020, when he featured for Turkish side Trabzonspor in a 2-2 draw with Besiktas.
Sturridge's contract with Trabzonspor was terminated in March that year when he copped a four-month worldwide ban for breaching betting rules.
It remains to be seen whether the former England international will play in Sunday's A-League Men's clash with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
The match will pit Glory up against their former coach Tony Popovic, who has enjoyed a perfect 2-0 start at his new club.
Australian Associated Press