Mario Balotelli picks up injury on international duty with Italy

Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli has picked up an injury while on international duty with Italy.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 25, 2014: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli looks dejected as his side draw 0-0 with Hull City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mirror report that it’s a hamstring strain, saying:

The Liverpool striker picked up the problem in training earlier this week, although team doctors were confident he would recover in time for the Euro 2016 qualifier with Croatia on Sunday.

However, his condition hasn’t improved and Balotelli will now return to Melwood for treatment.

The Liverpool Echo quote the Italy team doctor as saying Balotelli had a small hamstring problem. But they explain:

It is now reported the injury involves his groin and lower back – and is enough to withdraw Balotelli from the national squad. The severity of his injury is, as yet, unknown.

The news will be a blow to the player, who was named in Antonio Conte’s squad for the first time under the new Italy boss, while also for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers who loses a player to injury on international duty yet again.

It also heightens the need for Daniel Sturridge to return after 14 games out, against Crystal Palace next weekend. The England forward took part in a behind closed doors friendly at Melwood on Friday afternoon.

If Balotelli’s injury keeps him on the sidelines for Liverpool, it will mean a longer wait to partner him and Sturridge together, meaning the 4-4-2 diamond formation that fans were hoping to see return will be on hold again.

Liverpool’s next six fixtures could make or break their season, and Rodgers will want all his key men available for them.

Liverpool’s next 6 fixtures: Palace (a), Ludogorets (a), Stoke (h), Leicester (a), Sunderland (h), Basel (h).