Sturridge: It's been a whirlwind
Daniel Sturridge intends to come up "smelling of roses" as he continues to battle back from the toughest experience of his life.
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The Chelsea striker - who is hoping to make only his second start of the season, and his first for England in Wednesday's international friendly in Sweden - contracted viral meningitis last summer.
He recovered to take up a place in the Great Britain squad for the Olympics but has since struggled to get game time at Chelsea.
That has not prevented Roy Hodgson from naming him in his latest England squad and the 23-year is determined to grasp the opportunity if he features in Stockholm.
Sturridge said: "It has been a whirlwind 12 months. I've had highs, lows, everything thrown at me.
"It was hugely character-building. The meningitis was the hardest point of my life, the most emotional period I have had, but I am glad I recovered.
"I am not one to try to give it the sob story about myself. I have recovered. People have had meningitis and been a lot worse than I was. It was something I was able to get over.
"I am moving forward now, getting stronger and feeling better every day.
"Then to play in Team GB and be involved in the Olympics when I thought I wouldn't be able to, then to lose and go out and go back to Chelsea and not play as much as I did last season... obviously things have been a lot different for me.
"But it is all just making me stronger and I have still got belief in myself.
"I am not a person to shy away from any sort of adversity. I like to walk through everything and try to come out smelling of roses.
"It's just great to be in the position where I am now, to be involved in the England squad even though I've not been playing regularly, and for the manager to show huge faith in me.
"I just want to thank him for picking me for this squad and hopefully I will be able to repay him."
Sturridge won his first England cap off the bench against Sweden at Wembley a year ago and has since made two further substitute appearances against Holland and Ukraine.
Despite his relative inexperience, he almost finds himself a senior striker in the current squad in the absence of Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe, with only Danny Welbeck having made more appearances.
Hodgson has also included two uncapped youngsters in Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha.
Having been deployed as a winger in the past, Sturridge is now operating in his preferred centre forward position but of his 11 Chelsea appearances this season, 10 have been as a substitute.
He knows he must make the most of any time he gets on the field and hopes his proven versatility can continue to help his cause.
Sturridge said: "It was a long time ago when I played against Sweden last time. I think I played on the wing, so I don't know what the manager is going to do, whether I will play as a striker or a winger.
"I am not one to stress about whether I start or not. It is the manager's decision and I will just go out there and show him what I am capable of doing, whatever amount of minutes he gives me.
"It is a huge window of opportunity for everyone to show the manager what they can do and stake a claim to be involved in the World Cup qualifiers.
"It is just a great place to be and to be a part of it is always special, whether it be a friendly or a competitive game."
Sturridge has been impressed by Crystal Palace's highly-rated forward Zaha, who was a late addition to the squad.
He said: "He is a very talented player and he was sharp in training today, he looked very good. He has got a lot of skills and can bring a lot to the table. I am looking forward to playing with him."
The 20-year-old is also eligible for Ivory Coast and could still switch allegiance even if he plays in Wednesday's friendly.
Sturridge said: "I think whichever decision he makes is going to be right for him as a person but I think everybody would love him to play for England and it would be great if he could."