Rodgers: Balotelli's Liverpool career is not over

The manager admitted after Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Bolton that the striker had been overlooked for selection, but insists a move away is not a foregone conclusion

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has defended striker Mario Balotelli and insisted “it is not the case” that his Anfield career is over.

Rodgers admitted after Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Bolton in the FA Cup that he had overlooked the striker following below-par displays training and urged the summer signing to step up if he wanted to be involved.

While the Reds boss accepts his striker has struggled to impress since his move to Anfield, he is not prepared to give up on the Italy international yet.

“It’s been a difficult period for Mario but he wants to fight for an opportunity here,” he told reporters. “The opportunity is there.”

In more positive news, Daniel Sturridge returned to full training with the Liverpool squad on Sunday as his return to first-team action for the first time since August draws near.

Liverpool face Chelsea in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final on Tuesday, with some suggesting Sturridge could be involved but Rodgers is not looking to rush the striker back.

“We’ll see how it is today,” Rodgers said. “He trained very, very well yesterday. That was as comfortable as he’s looked, he looked back to normal.

“We won’t risk it that’s for sure, he’s been out for a long time and we need to make sure he’s ready.”

Chelsea suffered a shock 4-2 home loss to Bradford City in the FA Cup on Saturday, but Rodgers does not feel that result will serve to help his side though does expect “trepidation” from Jose Mourinho & Co.

“Chelsea had a tough result at weekend but they are an outstanding team. They are dangerous,” he said.

“Confidence is high. We certainly won’t underestimate Chelsea, but our form and resilience is getting better.”

When asked if Liverpool were set to do any business in the remainder of the January transfer window, Rodgers responded: “I don’t think so. Unless something dramatic happens we will go with what we have.”

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