Mario Balotelli faces fitness test ahead of FA Cup tie

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is waiting on the fitness of striker Mario Balotelli before deciding whether to include him in the squad for Wednesday’s FA Cup quarter-final replay at Blackburn, reports ESPN. 

Balotelli withdrew himself from the squad for Saturday’s 4-1 Premier League defeat to Arsenal because of a knee problem.

Rodgers confirmed after the defeat at the Emirates that Balotelli had declared “himself not able to travel” after being assessed by club medical staff.

“We’ll see how Mario is this morning,” Rodgers said on Monday, looking ahead to the Blackburn game.

Even if fully fit it would have been unlikely that Balotelli would have been included in the starting line-up at Ewood Park, having started just once for the Reds since November 8 - their Europa League second leg defeat to Turkish side Besiktas.

Since making the switch from AC Milan in the summer, the Italian has been confined almost exclusively to substitute appearances over the last five months.

Despite signing a three-year contract at Anfield, Balotelli could be sold at the end of the season.

Endured a tumultuous spell

The 24-year-old has endured a tumultuous spell since returning to the Premier League and it's reported that the former Manchester City striker is considered surplus to requirements.

England pair Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge are in contention for a starting place in the FA Cup quarter-final – Liverpool’s last chance of silverware this season.

However, Rodgers will be without suspended trio captain Steven Gerrard, centre-back Martin Skrtel and versatile defensive midfielder Emre Can.

Trophy hunt 

Rodgers is yet to win a trophy since arriving at Liverpool in 2012 and is keen to see his side replicate their FA Cup success of 2006.

He said: “It's going to be difficult for us to qualify for the Champions League if the teams above us don't drop points.

“We would have to win our seven league games, but we will try to do that. We want to win every single game we play.

“In terms of the FA Cup, that was always an objective. We made it a real objective this season to do well in the cups. This is an opportunity to get to another semi-final.

“The group's very committed to winning this trophy, but in order to do that, you've got to qualify, and we know Blackburn will be a difficult game for us. Then we can look towards the league and look to finish the season strongly.”

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