Rodgers: No need to protect Balotelli

October 30th, 2014

The Liverpool manager insists he does not need to pay special attention to the fiery Italy international, who clashed with Jonjo Shelvey during their League Cup tie at Anfield

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he does not need to protect Mario Balotelli from other Premier League players following an on-pitch spat with Jonjo Shelvey.

Balotelli clashed with the Swansea City midfielder during the Reds’ 2-1 League Cup victory at Anfield, in which the Italy striker scored, but Rodgers claims he is unconcerned with the 24-year-old’s behaviour.

“I don’t have to protect Mario,” the Reds boss told reporters. “He’s fine. There’s no concern.”

Balotelli is likely to feature against Newcastle this weekend as he continues his search for a first Premier League goal for Liverpool, though the Reds will be without Daniel Sturridge.

The England striker has been struggling with a calf injury in recent weeks and Rodgers confirmed that the star would not be fit for this weekend’s clash, with Fabio Borini in line to replace him in the starting XI.

Jose Enrique will also miss out against former club Newcastle, whom Rodgers praised following their recent wins over Manchester City and Tottenham, which have alleviated the pressure on previously under-pressure boss Alan Pardew.

“Jose is still not available. It’s an issue with his knee, but we have no other fresh concerns,” he said.

“Newcastle were outstanding at Tottenham and thoroughly deserved their win at Man City.

“I know Alan is a top class manager. He’s experienced and talented. He has over 600 odd games now.

“I think the division as a whole is tight. Newcastle have some momentum, but we are coming into the game with confidence.”

Bigon: No possibility of Balotelli joining Napoli

October 30th, 2014

The Partenopei were said to be weighing up a €12.5 million bid for the Italy striker, who has netted just twice so far for the Reds

Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon has rubbished reports linking the Serie A side with Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli.

It had been claimed that the Partenopei were considering a €12.5 million bid for the Italy international, who only moved to Anfield from AC Milan just before the close of the summer transfer window.

However, Bigon insists that Napoli would have no chance of signing Balotelli even if they were interested in the 24-year-old striker.

“They’re speaking about Balotelli in Spain, England and Italy but it’s not a possibility. Nothing of what has been said is true,” he stated.

“It’s not a feasible line. I don’t think this is a real story, though the fact is that Mario remains a great player.

“The boy has just been bought by Liverpool and given what their coach is saying, he’s an investment for the future of the club.

“We can only wish Mario all the best on his English adventure.”

Former Manchester City striker Balotelli has endured a difficult start to his second stint in the Premier League but he netted his second Liverpool goal in Tuesday’s Carling One Cup win over Swansea.

Sturridge: My recurring injuries could be hereditary

October 30th, 2014

The Liverpool forward admits that his family have always suffered with muscle problems while he also hopes to strike up a partnership with Mario Balotelli when he regains fitness

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge fears that the injuries which have ruled him out of much of the season could be hereditary.

The former Chelsea man has not made an appearance since England’s friendly against Norway in early September, having suffered from thigh and calf problems, and believes that injuries suffered by his family – including his uncle, former Derby County striker Dean Sturridge – could be linked to the issues that he has faced in recent years.

“I play my game as best I can but I’ve been unfortunate this season,” he told talkSPORT.

“Maybe it’s my body type, maybe it’s hereditary. Both my uncles had injuries and my dad had them as well.

“Maybe it’s the Caribbean vibes, maybe I have speed but maybe it makes you more vulnerable because of the fast twitch muscles and the speed at which you’re moving.

“I am vulnerable to muscle injuries. As long as I continue to work hard, everything will take care of itself.”

Sturridge’s absence has led to Mario Balotelli leading the line for Brendan Rodgers’s team but the Italian has come under fire, having only netted twice since his arrival from AC Milan in August.

The former Manchester City duo have only been paired together once due to Sturridge’s injuries, a game in which the Reds beat Tottenham 3-0, but the 25-year-old is hopeful their relationship off the field will translate to the pitch when he regains his fitness.

“We get on well off the field and in the changing rooms. We’re always laughing and joking,” said the England star.

“It’s not hugely important to be friends to have a great relationship with somebody and, if you’re not friends, you can still have a great partnership but you can also be friends and have a great partnership.

“Once I get back fit, I’m hoping we can strike up a partnership. Last season with Luis [Suarez] we had a great relationship up front and scored a lot of goals. Hopefully this season it will be the same.”

Kolo Toure predicts Balotelli goal glut

October 29th, 2014

The Italy striker equalised for the Reds in the League Cup tie against Swansea at Anfield on Tuesday and the Ivorian defender believes his team-mate will now go on a scoring spree

Kolo Toure expects Liverpool team-mate Mario Balotelli to hit the goal trail after the much-maligned forward ended his drought on Tuesday.

The Italian striker came off the bench to net a late equaliser in Liverpool’s 2-1 League Cup fourth-round win over Swansea City – his first goal in nine games for the Merseyside club.

Balotelli has found the going tough at Anfield since his move from AC Milan in August, scoring just twice in 12 appearances so far.

However, defender Toure believes the 24-year-old’s strike against Swansea could prove a much-needed catalyst for his Reds career.

“For strikers, goals are like food,” the Ivorian, who also played with Balotelli at Manchester City, told the Liverpool Echo.

“Mario needs to feed himself by scoring goals. Now that he has got one, he will do that, definitely.

“Getting that goal will be fantastic for his confidence. He is a great player, he has just been lacking goals.

“Mario is my mate and I’ve tried to help him, like Stevie [Gerrard], the manager [Brendan Rodgers] and everyone else in the dressing room.

“We all know he’s a top player. I always tell him: ‘You need to get out there and show you are one of the best players in the world.’

“He is one of the best. He has just been missing goals but they will come now.”

'University guys have done crazier things' – Liverpool striker Sturridge defends Balotelli

October 29th, 2014

The England striker says his Anfield team-mate, who has been widely criticised this season, attracts a lot of unfair attention and criticism and “ends up getting stereotyped”

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has defended under-fire team-mate Mario Balotelli, insisting he is “just a regular young guy” and that a lot of people his age have done “crazier things”.

Sturridge has not featured for the Reds since the 3-0 win against Tottenham on August 31 – Balotelli’s debut for the club – due to injury.

The Italian has attracted widespread criticism for his poor form since then, as well as for swapping shirts at half-time of the Champions League clash against Real Madrid, but Sturridge says he gets a lot of unfair criticism and attention.

“Mario is really cool and I get along with him – I enjoy working with him,” he told The Mirror.

“But everyone says similar things about him like he is wild and then he ends up getting stereotyped.

“He is under the microscope and he is at that level where he is known around the world and he does get scrutinised.

“I think the average 24-year-old or guys who go to university who are a little younger will have done a lot crazier things than him.

“Everyone makes mistakes and has flaws – he is just finding his way.”

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