Date: 6th October 2014 at 4:48pm
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Italy boss Antonio Conte has defended his decision to drop Mario Balotelli from the Italy squad, saying the striker needs time to adapt to life at Liverpool, reports the Evening Standard.

Balotelli has endured a tough start to life at Anfield, scoring just one goal in eight appearances since his £16million move from AC Milan in August.

He was dropped from the starting line up in favour of Rickie Lambert on Saturday, as the Reds recorded their first Premier League win in more than a month at home to West Brom.

In that time, the 24-year-old has also lost his place in the Italy squad, but Conte had words of encouragement for the under-pressure forward.

“Mario has started a new path,” Conte said in Monday’s press conference. “It’s not an easy one and I believe he must be given the necessary time to adapt at Liverpool.”

“We are following him just as we monitor all Italians that play abroad,” he continued. “I make selections not exclusions, which is something completely different.”