Balotelli MUST step up training efforts, insists Liverpool boss Rodgers

first_img Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli 1 Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has told striker Mario Balotelli he must step up his efforts in training, or risk not being picked for the Reds first-team.The £16million summer signing did not make the 18-man matchday squad for saturday’s goalless FA Cup fourth round draw at home to Bolton, despite being fit after recovering from illness.Balotelli has struggled to settle since arriving at Anfield and hasn’t started a game since the 2-1 Premier League defeat to Chelsea in November.And Rodgers said he spent an hour on Friday telling the Italy international exactly what he had to do in order to be considered.“I am judging it every day in training – Mario is exactly the same as every other player, there is no special treatment for anyone,” said the Reds boss.“Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert are working tirelessly in training and when they go on they have contributed and young Jordan Rossiter, on the bench today, has been brilliant in training and I have to judge it on that.“If you want to contribute you have to be at it every single day in training in order to be in the squad on match day.“We had an hour or so yesterday chatting and he understands where he is at.“He knows exactly what is required to be in this squad before he can be in the team.“It is difficult for him but he knows the level of what this team is at – you see the aggression in our pressing and if you can’t do that you are not going to be a part of what this team is trying to achieve.“He was fully understanding. He saw the level of performance against Chelsea [in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup] and in fairness to him he actually said it would be a struggle for him in terms of how he would play the game because he is a box player really.“But there is much more asked of this team and he saw it clearly on the field the other night. I am confident he will respond well.”First choice striker, Daniel Sturridge, returns to training tomorrow having not featured for the Reds since August 31 because of a thigh injury, and Rodgers added the England man could make the squad for the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Tuesday.“Now it is just about getting that condition with football fitness and game fitness,” said Rodgers.“We will see how he is for Tuesday but if he is not ready for Tuesday he will be back for sure against West Ham next weekend.”last_img read more