Friday 15 January 2016 11:32, UK
Phil Thompson believes Liverpool will sell Mario Balotelli before the end of the transfer window, if Daniel Sturridge is ready for the first team.
The Italy international has not scored in the Premier League since joining the club in August from AC Milan, and he has only netted two goals in his 18 total appearances.
Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is reported to be interested in taking him to Inter Milan, and former Liverpool captain Thompson feels that could be an option as long as fellow striker Sturridge is match fit.
I would think if there’s an offer there for him (Balotelli) from another club, then they will take it, as long as Sturridge is ready to come back.
Talking on The Morning View on Sky Sports News HQ, he said: “I think they need to change things up and we need a bit more experience.
"We still need another striker. If you pin me down regarding Balotelli, he’s been in and out of squads - sometimes not even making the substitutes' bench.
“To me, I would think if there’s an offer there for him from another club, then they will take it, as long as Sturridge is ready to come back.”
England striker Sturridge has only played four times for Liverpool this season after injuring his thigh in September but he is back in training ahead of Tuesday's Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has used the likes of Raheem Sterling and Rickie Lambert up front in his absence and Thompson says his return will need to be managed carefully.
He added: “When Sturridge returns, he will quite rightly be in this side.
"What you’ve seen when Sterling goes up front is pace, and pace worries centre-backs. Balotelli and Lambert don’t run in behind the defenders, as Sterling does. So when you have him and Daniel in the side, like last year - you have two players to worry about.
“But when you’ve had an injury that has occurred before, then you have to handle with care. It’s when Brendan Rodgers and his medical staff think it’s the right time for him to come back. Whether he gets 20 minutes against Bolton, or 20 minutes against Chelsea in the second leg to try and ease him into it.
“It will be difficult because I believe this is a chronic injury and I think it has to be handled with kid gloves. What we - at Liverpool - don’t want is it to get worse, because then he’ll probably need an operation.”
Liverpool host Chelsea tonight in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final, live on Sky Sports 1 from 7pm