LONDON: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Mario Balotelli has the experience required to lead the line when they return to Champions League action for the first time in five years at Anfield on Tuesday.
Italy striker Balotelli is likely to be the senior striker in a Liverpool side, with Daniel Sturridge set to be sidelined for at least another fortnight with a thigh strain.
Balotelli, a £16 million ($26 million) signing from AC Milan, is one of the Liverpool players with the most European experience ahead of their Group B opener against Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad.
The 24-year-old has failed to score in his first two Liverpool appearances but Tuesday’s tie could present the ideal opportunity for the Manchester City striker to get his Anfield career up and running.
“Time will tell. The boy is only just in the door,” Rodgers said Monday.
“The best players enjoy that responsibility and I am sure it is one he is relishing but on the training field he is going to work hard to accept that responsibility knowing he has been brought in here to do a job which is to create and score goals and work hard.
“He was unfortunate he was ill last week and it was only on the morning of the game (Saturday’s Premier League defeat by Aston Villa) he declared himself fit to play, which shows he really wanted to get out and play here.
“He is also experienced as well. He is arguably one of the most experienced players we have in terms of this competition and international calibre and at club level.”