Brendan Rodgers confirms that Mario Balotelli is suffering from 'on and off sickness issues'
Mario Balotelli was again conspicuous by his absence last night as Liverpool recorded a 2-0 win over Newcastle at Anfield to reignite their push for a Champions League spot.
The 24-year-old Italian has failed to make much of an impact on the field since his £16m move from AC Milan during the summer.
Balotelli has been absent from the Reds matchday squad in recent weeks with a mystery illness but Brendan Rodgers expects him back shortly.
“Mario is still ill,” he told the post-match press conference. “He wasn’t quite fit enough for tonight but hopefully he’ll train during the week.”
When probed again by attending press, who asked if his unexplained lengthy absence was concerning, the Northern Irishman appeared to measure his response, adding:
“He’s had on-and-off sickness issues...”
Balotelli hit back at critics who doubted whether he was truly too ill to play in Liverpool's FA Cup tie at Blackburn by posting a picture of himself holding a thermometer reading 38.7C - 1.7C above 'normal' body temperature.
It was the second time this season he has taken to social media to attack critics who have questioned his commitment to Liverpool, having also done so in March.
The striker's future at Anfield looks increasingly bleak as he has fallen out of Brendan Rodgers' first-team plans. He is widely expected to leave the club at the end of the season provided Liverpool can find a buyer.