Mario Balotelli: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers backs striker

Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli has scored one Liverpool goal since joining from AC Milan in August 2014 for £16m

Mario Balotelli received praise from Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers despite the £16m striker again failing to score in a goalless draw with Hull.

The Italian, 24, signed for the Reds in August but has not netted in seven Premier League games and missed two excellent chances at Anfield.

"I thought he worked very well, very hard," said Reds manager Rodgers.

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"He maybe thought he wasn't going to play but you have got to stay with it. He is working hard and doing his best."

Balotelli had a first-half shot well saved by Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic and also failed to connect from close range with a last-minute chance that would have won the game.

The ex-Manchester City forward has only scored once in 11 Liverpool games - against Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League - but Rodgers believes the goals will soon come.

"Sometimes with players if it's not going so well they have a day where they don't train or don't work, but he puts himself out to train every single day," added the Northern Irishman.

"He is out there wanting to be better, wanting to improve. He kept going, kept getting into the areas.

"Goalscorers will tell you they get their energy from the ball hitting the back of the net and it is just not happening for him, but all I ask is they do their best."

Mario Balotelli
Balotelli helped Manchester City win the Premier League title during his last spell in English football

The result left Liverpool, Premier League runners-up last season, eight points behind leaders Chelsea, who play at Manchester United on Sunday.

Hull boss Steve Bruce, whose side drew for the fifth time in nine Premier League games this season, also backed Balotelli.

"I thought he was their best player," said Bruce. "He is not everyone's cup of tea, but he is a bit of a character, a bit of a maverick.

"When you sign a maverick you have to treat him like one and get the best out of him somehow.

"He is going through one of those sticky periods but the kid is a talent."

The Italian was criticised for swapping his shirt at half-time when his side were losing 3-0 to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.

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