Date:20th October 2014 at 1:32pm
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Brendan Rodgers has come to the defence of Liverpool’s under-performing striker Mario Balotelli, after the Italian produced a contender for miss of the season in the 2-3 win over QPR on Sunday.

Balotelli is yet to open his Premier League account for the Reds since completing a £16million move to Anfield in the summer, and has hit just one goal in his opening nine matches for the club in all competitions.

When it was questioned whether Balotelli would be selected for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid having missed an open goal from six yards, Rodgers responded:

“Wow, that’s being very unfair: an open goal, from six yards?”

“Well okay, that’s harsh. It’ll drop for the boy.

“ The most important thing for me is his work rate.

“The guy is doing his best and working really hard and it is not dropping for him. I would say he would have finished that if Caulker had not put it in.

“He is seen as the direct replacement for Luis Suarez. And as I said before, Luis is irreplaceable. A real world class talent and that is not what is being asked of Mario.

“Mario’s come into here, everyone knows him and they’ve seen him over his career, he’s a great boy, and I’ve really enjoyed working with him.

“He wants to improve and be better, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”