Brendan Rodgers: Mario Balotelli "trying very hard"

.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Balotelli was withdrawn at the interval, with Rodgers later revealing that he would "deal with" the incident in his own way.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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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City23202167175062
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd23155348163250
3Liverpool23138254282647
4Chelsea23145441162547
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs23135546212544
6Arsenal23116641301139
7Burnley239771920-134
8Leicester CityLeicester238783432231
9Everton2376102538-1327
10Watford2375113342-926
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham2367102941-1225
12Crystal Palace2367102133-1225
13Bournemouth2366112435-1124
14Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2366111939-2024
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2365122131-1023
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2358101729-1223
17Southampton2349102334-1121
18Stoke CityStoke2355132350-2720
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom23310101830-1219
20Swansea CitySwansea2345141435-2117
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