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Premier League: Brendan Rodgers plays down concerns over Mario Balotelli

Brendan Rodgers insists he has "no concern" over Mario Balotelli and dismissed suggestions the controversial Liverpool striker needs protection from provocation.

Balotelli ended an eight-match goal drought on Tuesday when he climbed off the bench to score a late equaliser in the 2-1 Capital One Cup win over Swansea.

However, the Italy striker was also involved in two other notable incidents, the first coming pre-match when he was sent away from a warm-up exercise by Liverpool coach Mike Marsh - which assistant boss Colin Pascoe, amid reports it had been due to the player messing around, stressed was only because he had sustained a minor knee problem.

Confrontation

Then, after his goal, Balotelli was caught up in an off-the-ball confrontation with Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey, and further words were exchanged between the pair after the final whistle as they headed off the pitch.

However, when asked on Thursday for his view of what had happened with Balotelli that evening, a frustrated Rodgers was in no mood for elaboration.

"Not Mario Balotelli again," answered a frustrated Rodgers. "I don't know, but there is no problem, so we move on."

Then asked about opposition players possibly targeting the 24-year-old, Rodgers added: "I don't have to protect Mario, he is fine. There is no concern."

Liverpool head to St James’ Park on Saturday to take on Newcastle when they will again be without Daniel Sturridge.

The England striker has been sidelined since September 3 and recently claimed his injury problems could be hereditary - something Rodgers felt unable to comment on when it was raised on Thursday.

"I can only concentrate on his injury now and what my medical team here, who are fantastic, are telling me," Rodgers said. "He is just in the middle of recovering and we will see the length of time it takes.

"I'm not an expert on genetics or medicine, so I can't comment. All we know is that he had a calf strain on the back of his last injury, and he is working to recover from that." 

     


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