THERE should be a queue of clubs lining up to sign Daniel Sturridge and Andy Carroll.
Sturridge, out of contract at the end of the month, leaves Liverpool with another Champions League medal around his neck.
Carroll, one of the most aggressive, awkward, physically imposing attackers in the Premier League whenever he is fully fit, is out of contract at West Ham.
The pair should be two of the most prized free transfers in English football.
Instead Sturridge, who turns 30 in September, and Carroll, 31 in January, face uncertain futures.
Injuries have disrupted their careers, cutting short their Premier League seasons when they should have been operating at their peak.
Peak Sturridge was in 2013-14, when he played alongside Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling during Liverpool’s title charge. Although they came up short — finishing second to Manchester City — Sturridge scored 21 times.
In the seasons since, he has scored five, 14, nine, three and four.
His last goal was on September 29, 2018, when he rescued a point for Liverpool at Chelsea with a clever, improvised finish.
Beyond that he was restricted to substitute appearances because of the form of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Sturridge turned out to be an expensive bench warmer under Jurgen Klopp.
It is not much of a return on the £150,000-a-week contract Liverpool handed him in 2014.
Even so, he remains a talented footballer.
INJURIES DISRUPTED THEM
There is an added layer to Sturridge’s next move because he is still waiting to hear from the FA after he was charged with contravening betting regulations.
Sturridge’s hearing has already taken place after the FA alleged he passed on critical information about a potential loan move to Inter Milan, Sevilla and Newcastle last season.
Sturridge has received the written reasons, the lengthy verdict from the FA’s Independent Regulatory Commission.
The FA, who expected to release the findings in May, have suddenly been caught up in legal red tape.
This is not the way for Sturridge’s career to be remembered.
Five years ago, as England headed towards the World Cup in Brazil under Roy Hodgson, Sturridge was rightly seen as the country’s main attacking threat.
He scored against Italy in the opening group game in Manaus, confirming his ability on the big stage when he beat Salvatore Sirigu with a razor-sharp finish.
At the Euros two years later, he changed the outcome of the game against Wales after going on as a sub in Lens.
Carroll, this battering ram of a forward, was part of Hodgson’s England squad at Euro 2012.
FAILED TO REACH POTENTIAL
These two always seemed to be injured, with a catalogue of aches, strains and excuses stopping them from reaching their potential.
Carroll has never come close to fulfilling it, despite his combative qualities.
In a career taking in Newcastle, Liverpool and West Ham, he has scored just 52 goals in 211 Premier League appearances.
Carroll’s last league goal was in April 2018, when he scored against Stoke.
It is a poor return on the £130,000 a week West Ham have been paying him since his arrival in June 2013.
He is a free agent now, out in the wilderness with Sturridge as they try to work out their next move.
Chances are, it will be outside the Premier League.
MUST REWARD KEANE LIONS
MICHAEL KEANE joined up with the England squad for the Nations League finals on May 27 — and was only released from duty on Sunday.
He was the sole outfield player who did not get a single minute.
Even against Switzerland, with boss Gareth Southgate’s side wheezing their way to a 0-0 draw before winning on penalties, the centre-back was still overlooked.
It is Southgate’s call — but there has to be an incentive for fringe players when they join up with the squad after a long domestic season.
At 26, Keane is a senior player, a strong dressing-room voice after forming a solid partnership with Kurt Zouma at Everton.
It guarantees nothing with England but Southgate should have given him a game.
SPURS TRUMPING ENGLAND
TOTTENHAM’S state-of-the-art training complex has emerged as a serious rival to the FA’s St George’s Park.
Spurs chief Daniel Levy is hiring the place out for big bucks, bringing in extra revenue by hosting prestigious international teams such as Brazil.
It also has five-star accommodation and is preferred to the FA’s site at Burton due to its London location.
LOOKING LIKE A HUG’S GAME
ONLY the chosen few get to wear the colours of their country at a World Cup.
When they get there, the scorers are entitled to celebrate within the laws of the game.
The USA, who put a ludicrous 13 goals — including five from Alex Morgan — past Thailand in the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday, ruffled a few feathers because they continued with the hugs as the goals flew in during the second half.
Good luck to them.
The bigger picture is the scale of the defeat, the brutal scoreline at a World Cup at a time when the sport is fighting for social equality.
Thailand’s showing does nothing to convince the sceptics.
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NOT PEN PALS
JORDAN PICKFORD provided the entertainment and the story when England won the shootout to finish third in the Nations League.
Everton’s No 1, like the rest of the England and Swiss players, could have done without extra time. It was pointless to drag both countries, playing out a dead-rubber, through another 30 minutes of football after a desperate 0-0 draw.
The Nations League is new and lessons will be learned before the next one in 2021. When Uefa’s committee reviews it, they must ensure a drawn third-place game goes straight to pens.