Mario can bear main man burden

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Mario Balotelli will relish the responsibility of being the side’s senior striker.

The Italy international, a £16million signing last month, is now the main man up front in the absence of Daniel Sturridge, who is likely to be out for at least another fortnight with a thigh strain.

As Liverpool make their return to the Champions League after a five-year absence, the 24-year-old finds himself the side’s third most experienced player in Europe’s elite club competition.

He has failed to sparkle in his first two appearances, which extended his goalscoring drought to six club games having grabbed 16 in 35 games prior to that for AC Milan.

However, Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets present ideal opposition to get his Liverpool career up and running in front of a home crowd and Rodgers believes Balotelli will embrace the responsibility.

“Time will tell. The boy is only just in the door,” he said.

“The best players enjoy that responsibility and I am sure it is one he is relishing but on the training field he is going to work hard to accept that responsibility knowing he has been brought in here to do a job which is to create and score goals and work hard.

“He is arguably one of the most experienced players we have in terms of this competition.”