Rodgers: No need to protect Balotelli

The Liverpool manager insists he does not need to pay special attention to the fiery Italy international, who clashed with Jonjo Shelvey during their League Cup tie at Anfield

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he does not need to protect Mario Balotelli from other Premier League players following an on-pitch spat with Jonjo Shelvey.

Balotelli clashed with the Swansea City midfielder during the Reds’ 2-1 League Cup victory at Anfield, in which the Italy striker scored, but Rodgers claims he is unconcerned with the 24-year-old’s behaviour.

“I don’t have to protect Mario,” the Reds boss told reporters. “He’s fine. There’s no concern.”

Balotelli is likely to feature against Newcastle this weekend as he continues his search for a first Premier League goal for Liverpool, though the Reds will be without Daniel Sturridge.

The England striker has been struggling with a calf injury in recent weeks and Rodgers confirmed that the star would not be fit for this weekend’s clash, with Fabio Borini in line to replace him in the starting XI.

Jose Enrique will also miss out against former club Newcastle, whom Rodgers praised following their recent wins over Manchester City and Tottenham, which have alleviated the pressure on previously under-pressure boss Alan Pardew.

“Jose is still not available. It’s an issue with his knee, but we have no other fresh concerns,” he said.

“Newcastle were outstanding at Tottenham and thoroughly deserved their win at Man City.

“I know Alan is a top class manager. He’s experienced and talented. He has over 600 odd games now.

“I think the division as a whole is tight. Newcastle have some momentum, but we are coming into the game with confidence.”

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