Liverpool talk up Balotelli ahead of Swansea clash

Reds assistant manager Colin Pascoe says everything will be alright with goal-shy striker

Mario Balotelli is not affected by the scrutiny he is under and has the hunger to succeed as a Liverpool player, according to assistant boss Colin Pascoe.

Balotelli has scored just once in his first 11 appearances for the Merseysiders and the maverick striker left his manager Brendan Rodgers less than impressed last week when he swapped shirts with Pepe at half-time during the 3-0 Champions League loss to Real Madrid.

Rodgers was complimentary about Balotelli's performance in Saturday's 0-0 Barclays Premier League draw with Hull, though, and has since spoken of his confidence in the Italy international's willingness to "learn", as well as about the support he is receiving from the club.

Backed up

Those words were backed up by Pascoe ahead of tonight’s


Capital One

Cup fourth- round clash with his and Rodgers’s old side Swansea at Anfield.

Asked at the pre-match press conference yesterday about the effect the attention focused upon Balotelli was having on the 24-year-old, Pascoe said: “Nothing really. He works hard, he is a great talent and every day on the training pitch you can see he wants to do more. At the end he is always asking to do more things.

“Everything will be alright with Mario because you know his hunger is there and he wants to win.”

Balotelli was always likely to generate headlines following his move to Liverpool from AC Milan in August. But things have been intense for him given, in the absence of the sold Luis Suarez and injured Daniel Sturridge. He has struggled for goals while leading the line for a club who excelled last term, but have made a shaky start this season.

Tonight’s game might be deemed an opportunity for Balotelli to break his eight-match scoring drought – or for him to be taken out of the spotlight.

Either way, Pascoe was giving little away as to his chances of retaining his starting spot when Liverpool’s players are rotated for the tie.

“We have strikers and midfielders who can step in as we rotate it,” said Pascoe, who watched from the Reds bench as Swansea won 3-1 at Anfield in the Capital One Cup fourth round two years ago.

"It is not all about Mario here – you have Rickie Lambert or Fabio Borini that can step in. We'll just wait and assess everyone and decide then."