Asked about the debut performance of Sturridge, the boss declared his pleasure at the 23-year-old's showing and backed the striker to shine further as his fitness improves.
The Northern Irishman said: "I thought he was excellent. He's nowhere near fit yet, he's come in off the back of an injury and hasn't done a lot of training. I think you saw in that cameo today of 55 minutes his pace, his power and he scored a good goal.
"He probably could have had three goals. It was a good introduction for him, a tough one because Mansfield were very committed. He got his goal and that will give him confidence - he'll look to keep scoring."