Brendan Rodgers: “This is not the Mario Balotelli show”

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Brendan Rodgers laughed off suggestions that the focus on Liverpool is solely on Mario Balotelli when addressing the media at his weekly press conference at Melwood on Friday afternoon.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Monday, April 30, 2012: Manchester City's Mario Balotelli shows off his new hair style, a Mohican dyed yellow, as he warms-up as an unused substitute during the Premiership match against Manchester United at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When asked by one journalist for his thoughts on local children standing on bins outside the club’s training ground to catch a glimpse of Liverpool’s new £16 million striker, Rodgers replied, “I don’t think they were just trying to get a look at Mario. We’ve got some great players here.

“It’s not the Mario Balotelli show. He’s talented, but he’s got a lot of work to do. The star of this team is simply the team.”

Looking ahead to the Reds’ Premier League clash at Tottenham on Sunday, Rodgers confirmed that he expects to have Balotelli available for selection after a good first week integrating himself into the squad and the city.

“Mario’s fine, he’s settled in very well and looked fantastic in training,” the Northern Irishman added. “Focus has been very much on his football. He’s a good lad.”

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Balotelli was signed on Monday afternoon from AC Milan, but his registration was completed too late for him to face his former club Manchester City that evening.

The 24-year-old Italian international looks set to make his debut in a Liverpool shirt at White Hart Lane this weekend (Sunday, 1.30pm kick-off).

Tottenham v Liverpool last season saw the Reds run out 5-0 winners, but Rodgers played down any suggestions of complacency.

He said, “Even the 5-0 win at Spurs last season we had to work for. Our organisation was at a high level, we expect a hard game this Sunday.”

Share your thoughts on whether you think Balotelli should be given a starting role in Liverpool’s team against Spurs on Sunday in the comments section below.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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