Bench warning for Balotelli

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli returns from suspension with a warning he may have to get used to life on the bench at Anfield.

Balotelli has scored just twice in 15 appearances since his ??16m move from AC Milan but has yet to find the net in the Premier League.

Daniel Sturridge remains sidelined with a thigh injury for the Boxing Day clash with Burley, so ??

Raheem Sterling will spearhead the attack while Balotelli, who is available after his one-match ban for posting a racist and anti-semitic image on social media, will be on the bench.

“It is something he will have to (get used to),” said Rodgers

“If the team needs him from the bench then it is something he will need to become adjusted to – that is the same for every single player, not just him.

“When called upon, whether starting or off the bench, you ask your players to be ready.”

Performances this season have shown Balotelli is not comfortable in the lone striker role, and he does not possess the pace and intensity which Sterling and Sturridge both have when it comes to pressurising opponents on the ball.

That is something which has been one of the positives in their last three performances and was evident throughout their run to second place in the league last season.

“We’ve seen it isn’t really his game,” added Rodgers.

“Working with Mario, we see he is someone who is better in and around the box so that level of intensity and pressing isn’t part of his game.

“But you try to get the best out of the players you have and the qualities you have. That is something we will focus on.

“The most important thing is Mario is available after his ban. It adds another player to our squad and another player who is available, especially with (the suspended) Fabio Borini unavailable.”

A forward line of Sterling, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho harried the life out of Arsenal in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Anfield, and Rodgers believes his recent switch to 3-4-3 has helped restore something which has been lacking all season.

“We are at our best when our game is aggressive,” he said.

“We have had to adapt in terms of how we have played because of the personnel and it has taken the period after the Crystal Palace game (when they lost four in a row in November) when we needed to steady the ship with some solid performances.

“I have always known longer-term it wouldn’t take us where we wanted to go and certainly it wouldn’t have taken us to nearly winning the league, so it was trying to find a solution in terms of regaining that intensity and tempo.

“That real aggressive pressure at the top end of the field is key for us, it gives us the platform to dominate the ball.

“We haven’t stumbled across a system, a lot of hours have gone into looking how we maximise the players we have and in the last three games in terms of performances we have been much closer and hopefully it will continue in that vein.”