Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that Daniel Sturridge has returned to training although he has ruled out the possibility of the striker featuring against Aston Villa on Saturday, insisting that the 25-year-old is still lacking in match fitness.
The former Chelsea striker, who has been on the sidelines with a thigh injury since August, recently returned to Liverpool after spending a month recovering at a rehabilitation centre in Boston.
Although Liverpool, who have been very poor in front of goal this season, will be desperate to bring back Sturridge to their squad, Rodgers says that the striker is still not ready to feature in a match.
"Daniel Sturridge is back and working well but obviously not ready to play as of yet," Rodgers told Liverpool's official website. "But he is working well and hopefully in the near future he'll be ready."
"Time will tell (when he can return). We just want him fit and there is no timeline on that. He is working hard and he's back into the final stages of his rehab here at the club."
Meanwhile, Rodgers had dismissed speculations of Liverpool wanting to offload Mario Balotelli in the January transfer window.
The Italian, who arrived from AC Milan for a transfer fee of £16 million last summer, was brought in as a replacement for Luis Suarez last summer.
However, the striker has been very disappointing this season, failing to net a single goal in the Premier League so far.
Due to this reason, there were suggestions of Liverpool wanting to cut their losses and sell Balotelli in January.
But the Northern Irishman dismissed all the rumours, insisting that the Reds are trying to help him find a "solution" to overcome his goal drought.
"Mario is a good guy, he has come into here and hasn't scored the goals that he or we would have wanted, but we are determined to help him find the solution here. So he certainly won't be going anywhere in January."
The former Swansea City boss also jokingly agreed with former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, who recently stated that anyone managing Balotelli should be paid double.
"Roberto knows him very well," joked Rodgers. "I think he said that when you work with Mario, you should be paid double. I saw that, so I'll agree with that. I'll speak to the owners about that."