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Friday 30 September 2016

Balotelli ready to face Villa in cup semi-final

Liverpool's Mario Balotelli
Liverpool's Mario Balotelli

LIVERPOOL striker Mario Balotelli could play some part in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Aston Villa at Wembley after returning to full training at Melwood.

The Italy international has missed the past three matches due to a combination of injury and illness but has now been passed fit for duty.

Balotelli’s availability will bolster Brendan Rodgers’ attacking options with Daniel Sturridge battling to overcome the hip problem which forced him to miss Monday’s Premier League win over Newcastle United.

Adam Lallana, who has been hampered by a groin injury for the past month, is unlikely to feature at Wembley as he’s still only taking part in light training and has yet to rejoin the squad.

Balotelli has played just 55 minutes of football for Liverpool since he made his last start away to Besiktas in the Europa League back in February.

His last appearance came as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United nearly four weeks ago.

He missed the trip to Arsenal after Rodgers revealed he had “ruled himself out” with a sore knee.

Balotelli then sat out the FA Cup replay against Blackburn Rovers and the league game with Newcastle due to illness.

The controversial striker took to Instagram in a bid to convince fans he was too ill to play, posting a picture of himself holding a thermometer reading 38.7C.

The 24-year-old’s long-term prospects at Anfield are bleak.

He has scored just four goals in 25 matches since his £16million move from AC Milan last summer.

However, he could yet have a role to play during the run-in as Liverpool look to clinch FA Cup glory and launch a late push for a Champions League spot.

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