Balotelli left behind

Published: Wednesday 17th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli will not feature against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup quarter-final as he has not travelled with the squad.

The Italy international was a second-half substitute in Sunday’s defeat at Manchester United, where he made his comeback after more than a month on the sidelines with a groin problem.

Balotelli has stayed behind to receive further treatment on the injury at the club’s Melwood training ground with a view to him being fit for Sunday’s visit of Arsenal.

Defender Glen Johnson, who came off with a groin injury at Old Trafford, is likely to be out for about a month, meaning on-loan Javier Manquillo could be set for an extended run if manager Brendan Rodgers reverts to a flat back four having experimented with three centre-backs against United.

Rodgers is expected to name a strong side against the Sky Bet Championship leaders as he looks for a much-needed confidence boost after exiting the Champions League and losing against their arch-rivals in the same week.

That could mean Raheem Sterling, in the absence of Balotelli, is again asked to perform in the central striking role as he did against United.

The 20-year-old has reportedly been attracting the interest of Bayern Munich and, although Liverpool have yet to tie him down to a new contract, Rodgers is relaxed about the player’s future and does not think they will lose the youngster as they did Luis Suarez to Barcelona in the summer.

“Hopefully it is not going to be the case. We are trying to build something here,” said Rodgers.

“We were on a path for a couple of years and we have had to come off that path since the summer having lost some players and have had to regroup.

“He is a real talisman for this team. He has been a great example of the progress that a lot of the players have made here.

“He has gone from a youth team player to one of the top young players in European football.

“The club, I am sure, will work very hard (on his contract) and Raheem is happy here, he loves being a Liverpool player.

“I am sure between them and the representatives we can get a deal done which will see him go on to continue to develop what is an exciting career.

“I will never be surprised teams will be linked with Raheem as he is such a big talent at 20, a wonderful young player, but I am quite relaxed about it.”

Of the cup clash on the south coast Rodgers added: “We’re in competitions to win trophies, so if we can get the victory against Bournemouth and get through, the aim for us would be to hopefully go on and win the competition.

“This is the first cup competition that you can win, so it was always a priority for me.”

Published: Wednesday 17th December 2014 by The News Editor

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