Brendan Rodgers backs Mario Balotelli to shine in Champions League

Rodgers backs Balotelli to shine
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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes that striker Mario Balotelli will "accept the responsibility" of being the team's leading forward in the Champions League.

Brendan Rodgers has said that Mario Balotelli will "accept the responsibility" of being Liverpool's main striker when they make their return to the Champions League this week.

The Reds will make their first appearance in Europe's top club competition in five years when they face Belgian side Ludogorets Razgrad tomorrow.

With Daniel Sturridge out with a hamstring injury, the manager told talkSPORT: "The boy is only just in the door. 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 [defeat to 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."

Balotelli is behind only Steven Gerrard and Kolo Toure in Liverpool's squad for appearances in the Champions League, having featured in 29 matches for his previous teams.

Gabriel Agbonlahor of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield on September 13, 2014
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