Liverpool name provisional squad for Hull clash — Mario Balotelli set to keep starting place

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Misfiring striker Mario Balotelli is likely to keep his place for the visit of Hull as manager Brendan Rodgers has limited options up front.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 22, 2014: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli in action against Real Madrid CF during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 24-year-old has scored just once in 10 appearances but with Daniel Sturridge still sidelined by a calf problem the Italy international will probably start ahead of Rickie Lambert.

Midfielder Adam Lallana is pushing for a starting place after impressing as a substitute in the midweek defeat to Real Madrid.

Provisional squad: Mignolet, Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno, Gerrard, Henderson, Allen, Lallana, Balotelli, Sterling, Jones, Manquillo, Toure, Enrique, Can, Markovic, Lucas, Coutinho, Lambert.

Rodgers has told under-fire striker Balotelli and the rest of his side to accept recent criticism and move on.

While the Italy international has come in for the most negative attention after scoring just once in 10 matches and then swapping shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe at half-time of a 3-0 loss on Wednesday, the rest of the players are not without blame for a number of poor performances.

"It is something which if you do not score or when the team isn't playing well – whether the criticism is deserved or not – it is a part of the game and you have to accept it," said the Reds boss of the growing discontent with his striker and players in general.

"No-one likes it, however way it comes, but as an individual, team and manager you have to accept it."

While Rodgers continues to defend Balotelli he admits the 24-year-old has plenty of work to do to prove he is good enough to be at the club.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 19, 2014: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli in action against Queens Park Rangers' Yun Suk-Young during the Premier League match at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And the Reds boss believes it will be difficult for the forward to achieve if he cannot find a way to adapt his individuality into the team ethos.

"We have an image of a team here, of how we play and work and how we represent the club," he added.

"I like players that are different. I like individual personality in people with hair and coloured boots but as long as they don't see themselves as an individual that is what is important.

"They have to fit into the parameters of the team and if those players over the longer term don't it can be difficult for them to work here.

"But in terms of that he is genuinely working hard and doing his best at Liverpool.

"Longer term we will see how that works out for him but he is trying hard on the training field to improve his opportunities to score goals.

"As long as he is doing his best that is all I can ask as a coach: whether that best is going to be good enough that remains to be seen – but that is the same for every player not just Mario."

Balotelli was disciplined for the shirt incident and Rodgers has now drawn a line under the matter.

"Any action will be kept between ourselves," added the Reds boss.

"We just had a conversation about the culture in this country and in particular Liverpool and that is it, matter closed."

PA

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