Brendan Rodgers: Mario Balotelli "trying very hard"

Liverpool's Italian striker Mario Balotelli plays during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane in London on August 31, 2014
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.Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers defends Mario Balotelli following the player's the shirt-swapping incident.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has defended the shirt-swapping actions of Mario Balotelli, claiming that his striker "is trying very, very hard" to succeed at the club.

The Italy international was criticised for his lacklustre performance in the Reds' 3-0 Champions League defeat against Real Madrid last night, sparking further controversy by exchanging tops with opposition defender Pepe while leaving the pitch at half time.

Balotelli was withdrawn at the interval, with Rodgers later revealing that he would "deal with" the incident in his own way.

However, the Reds boss was quick to support his player during his weekly press conference, suggesting that criticism is inevitable.

"It'll happen when the team's not playing well - you have to accept that," he told reporters. "The boy is trying very very hard. Longer term we'll see how that works out for him. As long as he's doing his best that's all I can ask. Whether that best is good enough remains to be seen."

Balotelli has scored one goal in 10 appearances for Liverpool so far this season.

Liverpool's Italian striker Mario Balotelli plays during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane in London on August 31, 2014
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