Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers Monday insisted that controversial striker Mario Balotelli does have a future with the club. Speculation over the Italy forward's career on Merseyside intensified after he was left out of Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Bolton Wanderers on form grounds, although the forwards selected in his place failed to find the back of the net in a goalless draw with the second tier side.
Since making a £16 million move from AC Milan in August, Balotelli has managed just two goals in 18 appearances in all competitions for the Reds. However, Rodgers said after the Bolton match he expected Balotelli to fight for a first-team place, having previously ruled out selling him during the January transfer window.
And the Reds boss, speaking ahead of Tuesday's League Cup semi-final second leg clash away to Chelsea, said: "We will give Mario every chance. We brought him in here for this season to give him every chance to show consistently that he can play at a team consistently at the top level. It has been a difficult period for him, no doubt, but he is a good boy who does want to fight for his opportunity and chance here."
If selected for Tuesday's match, Balotelli could find himself up front with fit-again forward Daniel Sturridge. TheEngland striker has endured months of injury frustration, having been sidelined since August, but he is now back in full training and may feature against former club Chelsea in a match where the teams will kick-off with the tie all square at 1-1.