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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Di Matteo hails 'exciting' Sturridge

Roberto Di Matteo says Daniel Sturridge is firmly in his plans for next season, describing the striker as a player who "still has a lot to give".

Sturridge, 22, was part of Stuart Pearce's Team GB squad, playing in the Olympic Games only weeks after being diagnosed with viral meningitis.

He has also been included in Roy Hodgson's England squad for next week's friendly against Italy, but has been linked with a move away from Chelsea.

Di Matteo said Sturridge, who scored 11 League goals for the Blues last season "is part of the squad, of the team", but told Chelsea's official website: "He still has a lot to learn as well, but we are hopeful that he can develop even more and become a great player for us.

"He did very well to recover from his illness in a short period of time. He is a very exciting player, and it's great for him to be involved in the England squad.

"He has the ability to play in more than one position. He made it quite public he likes to play as a number nine, but there is competition, which is good, and we will see as the season starts who is going to play."

Last month, Sturridge had thanked Chelsea's doctor for diagnosing his meningitis and rescuing his chance to represent Team GB in the London Games.

He was close to having to withdraw from Pearce's squad but made a remarkable recovery and said: "I thought that my dreams of taking part in the Olympics were over. I am not going to say I would have died, but I don't think I would have recovered as quickly as I have done."

Di Matteo said it was more than likely that Sturridge's fellow forward Romelu Lukaku would be playing his football away from Stamford Bridge next season.

He added: "At this stage of his career, the most important thing is to play. It might be a bit more difficult here with us, so it's the best choice to let him go out on loan."

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