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Mario Balotelli: Goals are on the way

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Liverpool's Mario Balotelli has yet to score in the Premier League this season

Liverpool's Mario Balotelli has yet to score in the Premier League this season

Liverpool's Mario Balotelli has yet to score in the Premier League this season

Misfiring Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli insists criticism of his performances this season does not affect him and he is putting in more effort than ever before.

The Italy international has yet to score in the Premier League since his £16million summer move from AC Milan with his two goals coming against Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets and Swansea in the League Cup.

There is added pressure on the 24-year-old in the continued absence of Daniel Sturridge, who has not played for his club since August 31 because of injury and was this week ruled out until 2015 by a new thigh problem.

Believe

But Balotelli stressed his approval rating outside his inner circle is not something which concerns him.

"I don't need people to believe in me so long as I believe in myself," he said.

"The important people for me are my family and my few close friends."

Criticism of Balotelli has centred not only around his lack of goals but the apparent unwillingness to put in the effort on the pitch.

However, the striker insists he is working harder than ever before and rated his overall performance as 7/10 - a half-point increase on the assessment of himself two years ago.

"I run more than before," he added.

"I've never run like this ... so I give a half point more. Goals, they will come. It is something that's just not coming at the moment."

Sturridge's latest injury, which has prompted a full-scale medical investigation into his recurring problems given he has missed 30 of 82 matches since arriving from Chelsea in January 2013, has dealt a significant setback to Liverpool as they look to get their season back on track after slipping to 11th in the table.

He was expected to return this weekend at Crystal Palace but manager Brendan Rodgers must now find a way of getting goals out of Balotelli, fellow summer signing Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini - who between them have failed to score in 998 minutes in the Premier League this season.

Vice-captain Jordan Henderson admits the players have to help maintain Sturridge's spirits during his lengthy spell out.

"It is a big blow, not only for the team but for him as well," he said.

"He is devastated, at a really low point really because he was looking forward to getting back playing.

"He felt good so it is disappointing for us as a team and him personally.

"We have to make sure as team-mates we are strong for him because he is doing everything he can in the gym and on the training field to get back as quick as he can.

Recovery

"Hopefully he has a quick recovery, a speedy recovery and he comes back firing on all cylinders."

Rodgers insists Sturridge has been unfortunate with his latest injury but accepts there is a chronic issue which needs to be addressed.

"It is extremely unfair. He has just been extremely unfortunate," said the Reds boss. "The last time he played was August (31) and he is a player who does not want to be out for this length of time.

"There is no-one more frustrated than him at this present time. I spoke to him today and he was as down as I have seen anyone in terms of not being able to help the team.

"I think now is the time for him and us to go away to see what more we can do to get him onto the pitch consistently.

"He is world-class talent but he can only fulfil that if he is playing games - but there is no-one who wants that more than Daniel; he wants to be working and playing.

"We need to look to find the answers to allow him over a consistent period of time to perform here at Liverpool."


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