Brendan Rodgers has given his Liverpool squad a near clean bill of health ahead of our final game of the season. We travel to Stoke City on Sunday, looking for the win that will ensure us a fifth place finish.
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Europa League football is already confirmed – even if we drop outside of the top six and Aston Villa win the FA Cup, we’d still qualify via the fair play league – but we want to ensure that we go directly into the competition’s group stages, rather than enduring the agony of a lengthy qualifying campaign.
Thankfully, Rodgers will have a near full-strength team to pick from. He confirmed in his press conference earlier today (via the Daily Mirror), that only one player is in a race against time to be available.
No prizes for guessing who…
“Mario is a doubt,” he admitted. “Apart from that most are fit.”
This means that Balotelli may well have played his last game for Liverpool. The 24-year-old has only managed 15 Premier League appearances all season, scoring just one goal, and it seems he may have already had his final chance to impress.
Just last week, the Liverpool Echo reported that Sampdoria were ready to renew their interest in the Italian international. Their president, Massimo Ferrero, told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “I would take him – he’d be the real Balotelli again here. He wouldn’t have too much pressure here in Genoa.”
Elsewhere, the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Jon Flanagan – both long-term absentees, will presumably still be unavailable for selection. However, Mamadou Sakho, who has not played since early April, could return.