Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted that his side are missing Daniel Sturridge, as Mario Balotelli's Premier League goal drought continued at the weekend.
Sturridge has not played for the Reds since August 31, after being sidelined when picking up a thigh strain on England duty in September and then suffering a calf injury when he did return to training.
Since the 25-year-old was sidelined, the Merseyside club have struggled to score goals, netting just seven times in six top flight games. In Liverpool's previous two games, they needed the aid of two QPR own goals to clinch three points at Loftus Road, and then couldn't break down a gritty Hull City side at the weekend with the game finishing 0-0.
Summer signing Mario Balotelli is yet to net in the Premier League, and scored just one in 11 appearances in a Red shirt.
"When he comes back into the team, you will see the confidence because of the movement and the dynamic."
When he comes back into the team, you will see the confidence because of the movement and the dynamic.
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Rodgers has confessed the absence of Sturridge is putting a strain on his side, however he believes his side can remain in top four contention whilst the former Chelsea man is still in the sickroom.
"Top players have such an influence on the team," Rodgers told the club's official website.
"When you are under the cosh, you know that you have strikers who can score out of nothing. It is a big weapon. Sturridge is one of them.
"That is where we aim to get with Daniel. When he comes back into the team, you will see the confidence because of the movement and the dynamic.
"We just have to work without and while we are doing that, we are staying up and around the top end of the table. Everyone can see our conditions are different to work in this season. The players are working their best."
Sturridge has been superb since he joined Anfield in January 2013. Last season, he netted 21 Premier League goals, despite playing second fiddle to Luis Suarez for the most part of the season.
The England international gives his side so many options when leading the line. Sturridge can score incredible individual goals, due to his quick feet that dazzles defenders and his wicked left foot that causes goalkeepers all kind of problems.
However, it is his pace that makes the difference. Last season, Liverpool were second to none on the counter attack, injecting pace up top that would devastate teams in the first half, most notably against Arsenal and Everton at home.
The build up to Liverpool's play has been too slow this season. Mario Balotelli, who has been leading the Liverpool front-line prefers the ball into his feet, instead of running onto through balls sent by Philippe Coutinho or Steven Gerrard. Sturridge, however, thrives off finding space and latching onto passes.
Sturridge & Balotelli partnership
Despite Balotelli having a poor start, he has not had everything going his own way. The Italian prefers to play with a strike partner, yet for the most part he has played up top alone.
On Saturday against Hull, the former AC Milan man looked much more comfortable when Rickie Lambert entered the field as he could link with the 32-year-old. The pair had a system of one dropping into the number ten role and that allowed further space for the other, as well as playing nice touches with each other.
Sturridge and Balotelli have appeared just once together this season. That was in the 3-0 away victory against Tottenham Hotspur, arguably Liverpool's best performance this term. The two looked comfortable with one another, and really seemed to have a lot of potential together.
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