Mario Balotelli and Adam Lallana to return against Manchester United

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Brendan Rodgers has said that both Mario Balotelli and Adam Lallana could return to Liverpool's squad to face Manchester United on Sunday.

The Italian striker has been side-lined for almost a month after picking up a groin injury on international duty, leaving Rickie Lambert to lead the Reds' front-line.

Balotelli has yet to score in the Premier League for the Merseyside club since his £16 million move from AC Milan this summer, however, Rodgers is keen to bring the 24-year-old back into the set-up.

"We've still got a bit of time, so we'll see what his fitness is like," the Northern Irishman said during his pre-match press conference. "He's been out for a little while now, but in the last couple of days he's looked good in training.

"We'll give him every chance to see if he can come into the squad."

Goals needed

In the absence of 'Super Mario' fellow summer-signing, Rickie Lambert has lead the Liverpool forward-line. 

The 32-year-old scored his first goal for his boyhood club in the 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, making him the first striker on the Merseyside's clubs' books to score in the top flight this season. Lambert then followed that effort up with a header during the Reds' 2-2 draw with Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League.

However since, the former Southampton man is yet to strike and in his performances against Sunderland and FC Basel proved he is lacking the class to lead the Liverpool line.

The effort is always there from him, yet, he was brought in to be a 'Plan B' option and does not suit Rodgers' style of football.

Balotelli, too, badly needs a run of form.

He delievered early promise when putting a decent shift on debut when Liverpool thrashed Tottenham Hospur. 

The controversial forward, however, has not built on that bright start and has netted just twice in 14 appearances. 

It is not just the lack of goals from him that has been a concern, but his overall performances. Balotelli has typically been lazy when off the ball, not moving into space when his side are in possession and not chasing it down when without.

Lallana return

Rodgers too confirmed that Lallana, who was an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw with FC Basel that sent Liverpool crashing out of the Champions League, will return to meet the Red Devils on Sunday afternoon.

"He took a nasty injury in the game against Leicester and I didn't mention it because I wanted to protect the player and make sure he wasn't targeted in games," the former Swansea City manager continued.

"He looks fully up to speed. He's obviously had some work done since he's been here and watching him in training, he's been fine.

"He's been available, but not fully fit. He looks much, much better now."

The England international made his latest appearance during the 3-1 victory against Leicester City, when his first-half strike brought Liverpool level.

Since his £25 million move from Southampton this summer, Lallana has been consistent at Anfield and has delievered plenty of promise.

He has the ability to unlock defences with his quick feet and excellent vision and will likely play a big part against the club's bitter rivals.

United showdown

Liverpool enter Sunday's clash quite the opposite of last season.

Nine months ago, the Reds' were flying in the Premier League and fighting for the title and thrashed United 3-0 at Old Trafford thanks to two Steven Gerrard penalties and a strike from Luis Suarez.

However, they travel to the 'Theatre Of Dreams' placed just ninth in the table, 15 points behind leaders Chelsea and trail Louis Van Gaal's outfit by seven.

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Adam Lallana
Mario Balotelli
Manchester United
Premier League

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