Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has warned striker Mario Balotelli that he still must work harder to earn a place in the starting XI despite making important contributions from the bench in the last three games, reports the Liverpool
The Italian has not started a game for the Reds since November 8, but he got the winner in their last Premier League outing against Tottenham after coming on as a substitute, before claiming an assist in the FA Cup win at Crystal Palace and converting the penalty which saw Liverpool beat Besiktas in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 32 clash.
But Rodgers was unhappy at Balotelli’s lack of application in the closing stages against the Turkish side, warning the former Manchester City title winner that he faces a long wait to return to the starting line-up should his work-rate not improve.
When asked if he was happy with Balotelli’s display against Besiktas, Rodgers said: “No, not really, no. We need to ensure that whatever level of the game we are playing at we have everyone working as a team and once we get the penalty he stops working.
“He needs to improve on that facet of his game to play in his position, rather than standing on the side of the football field. He has contributed by scoring the goal but that is what he is paid to do. He needs to keep that efficiency in his game and show that he can affect the team whether he is asked to play from the bench or from the start.”
The Merseyside club travel to Southampton on Sunday in the Premier League before they go to Istanbul for the second leg with Besiktas on Thursday.
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