Brendan Rodgers has revealed Mario Balotelli was left out of the squad to face Bolton in the FA Cup out of choice and not through circumstance.
The Italian missed the last couple of matches through illness, but was available for selection on Saturday.
However, the Liverpool boss revealed he opted to go for Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert as the substitute strikers, and claims Balotelli will have to work hard to get back in the Liverpool squad.
He did however say he believes the striker has a better understanding of what is required of him to lead the line for Liverpool.
The manager explained: “He was not selected. It’s tough for Mario because the team is doing very well and he has probably seen the real Liverpool over these last six or seven weeks and understands now what is required to get into the team.
“I’m judging it every day in training. Mario is exactly the same as every other player, there’s no special treatment for anyone.
“Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert are working tirelessly in training and when they go on, they’ve contributed. Other players have been fantastic, some of our young players on the bench – young Jordan Rossiter – have been brilliant in training. I have to judge it on that.
“I’ve had a good chat with Mario, he knows exactly what is required to be in this squad before he can be in the team.
“We spent about an hour or so yesterday chatting and he understands where it’s at. He was out for a week or so because he wasn’t well and wasn’t available for selection. It is difficult for him, but he knows now the level this team is at.
“We’ve made a change structurally in the team for the pressing and creativity to come back. He is a player that will work very hard now to get back in, but it doesn’t matter who the player is or what he was bought for, this is a collective that is about the team and if you want to contribute then you have to be at it every single day in training in order to be in the squad on matchday.
“He was fully understanding. He saw the level of our performance against Chelsea and in fairness to him he actually said it was probably a struggle for him in terms of how he would play the game because he’s naturally been a box player. There is much more asked at this team and in the intensity of the team. He saw it clearly on the field the other night and in the last six, seven weeks or so.
“I am confident he will respond.”