mario: I NEED A STRIKE PARTNER AT 'pOOL
Italian striker wants two-pronged attack to fire Liverpool back into title contention
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli insists he is working harder to become more of a threat in the penalty area but would prefer a partner to play off up front.
The Italy international may get his wish for greater support, with Daniel Sturridge set to return from a thigh injury against QPR this weekend after missing the last seven matches.
In his absence Balotelli has toiled alone up front with just one goal - against Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets - to show for his efforts since a £16million summer move from AC Milan.
The 24-year-old has often frustrated fans with some of his performances and he accepts he is still learning how manager Brendan Rodgers wants him to play.
But he is focusing on breaking his Premier League duck and knows he can only do that by getting into the right areas.
"I can see already that the Liverpool fans really like me, although I know that maybe they are a little upset because I don't score," he said.
"I see they appreciate that I am working hard, though, which is nice for me.
"I know I have one goal in the Champions League but in the Premier League I have to start with one.
"After that I might set myself a target but I swear right now my first league goal is my first and only objective. I need to get in the box more. I don't do it enough but it is something I am working to try to do more.
"I have never been a real, out-and-out striker - I have always been someone who goes around the pitch.
"If it was my choice, I would always go with two strikers. It's the way I like to play, but Brendan asked me to play as the first striker.
"I understand that when the ball comes from wide on the left or right I need to be in the box otherwise there might be no-one there at all."
Balotelli's stuttering start has matched that of his new club, who have won three of their first seven league games.
However, the striker is confident things will improve and believes a strong English core can only help on the domestic front.
"I didn't really know much about the club before coming here, but I've been really surprised," said the Italian, who spent two and a half years at Manchester City before returning to his homeland.
"I knew they were a very good team but I didn't know they were as good as they are.
"Of course we need to improve many things because we have started off not very good but I think the players here are amazing.
"It's good to see young English players here too: (Raheem) Sterling, (Jordan) Henderson, (Adam) Lallana. I think the more players you have like this, the better.
"Maybe over time you have got used to not seeing so many good, young English players like that but now we are seeing some - it's good that they are in my team."
The best English player in the striker's eyes remains Steven Gerrard, however, whom he compared to his veteran Italy team-mate Andrea Pirlo.
"Gerrard is an amazing player. I had really not seen much of him before this season, apart from for England, but wow!" Balotelli said.
"I think of him as being at the same level as Pirlo. Vision, technique, but he is powerful as well. Stevie can do anything.
"It's going to be very difficult for the team to find another player like him in the future," he added.