Liverpool's Mario Balotelli told to shape up by Brendan Rodgers

Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli has only made 12 appearances in the league this season

Mario Balotelli has not been good enough in training to play for Liverpool at the moment, according to boss Brendan Rodgers.

The 24-year-old has yet to score in the league having signed in the summer for £16m, and was omitted from the squad for the FA Cup tie against Bolton.

"He knows exactly what is required to be in this squad before he can be in the team," Rodgers said of the striker.

Forward Daniel Sturridge is set to return against West Ham next Saturday.

The 25-year-old, who scored 28 goals last season, has been out of action since August with calf and thigh injuries, and will begin training with the first team on Sunday.

He has an outside chance of featuring against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg on Tuesday.

That increases the pressure on Balotelli, with Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert also competing for one of the striker spots in the matchday squad.

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FA Cup: Liverpool 0-0 Bolton highlights

"I am judging it every day in training - Mario is exactly the same as every other player, there is no special treatment for anyone," added Rodgers.

"Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert are working tirelessly in training and when they go on they have contributed and young Jordan Rossiter, on the bench today, has been brilliant in training and I have to judge it on that.

"If you want to contribute you have to be at it every single day in training in order to be in the squad on matchday.

"It is difficult for him [Balotelli] but he knows the level of [where] this team is at - you see the aggression in our pressing and if you can't do that you are not going to be a part of what this team is trying to achieve.

"We had an hour or so yesterday chatting and he understands where he is at."

Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw against Championship side Bolton in the fourth round of the cup.

"It was a really good game. I enjoyed it - it was a great atmosphere and a credit to both teams. I thought we were excellent," Rodgers told BBC Sport.

"We did everything but score. I am really proud of the team. We kept knocking on the door, their keeper made some great saves.

"We are still in the competition. There are games which if you are of lesser character you might lose. This is a very prestigious competition, we want to do well in it."

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