Mario Balotelli out in Manchester after missing Liverpool game through illness

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Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli was spotted eating out in Manchester on Saturday night despite missing his side's Premier League trip to Aston Villa through illness.

The Express reports that the 24-year-old was omitted from Brendan Rodgers's 18-man matchday squad at Villa Park over the weekend because he was feeling under the weather.

However, the Italy international obviously made a speedy recovery after uploading a photograph on his official Instagram account that clearly shows Balotelli and his boys enjoying dinner out at a famous northern nightspot the very same evening.

Balotelli's booking at the well known San Carlo restaurant - a popular eatery with many of Manchester United's players - will certainly have raised a few eyebrows, particularly amid speculation regarding his long-term future at Anfield.

The £16 million summer signing from AC Milan has endured a disappointing start to his career on Merseyside, contributing just two goals in 18 appearances for the Reds - none of those coming in the Premier League - which represents a poor return on the £80,000-a-week wages he's earning.

Unsurprisingly his absence wasn't felt by the rest of the Liverpool squad, who secured all three points after recording a 2-0 victory courtesy of goals from Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert either side of half-time.

The result means they stay eighth in the table with 35 points from 22 games, five points behind Manchester United in that all-important fourth and final Champions League place.

It's fair to say that Balotelli's conduct off the pitch has been surprisingly good since returning to England, which is a far cry from his previous stint at Manchester City when he attracted headlines for the wrong reasons far too frequently.

However, Liverpool fans will still be disappointed with his struggles for fitness and form, although it looks as though Rodgers is going to stand by the striker for the foreseeable future after ruling out any possibility of him leaving the club this month.

"Mario is a good guy," said the Northern Irishman. "He hasn't scored as many goals as he would have liked, but we are determined to help him find a solution here. He won't be going anywhere in January."

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