Mario Balotelli
Balotelli told the door to the Italy set up is still open. Getty

Italy boss Antonio Conte has laid down the conditions for Mario Balotelli to return to the Azzurri fold – telling the striker he must play more games for Liverpool.

Balotelli, 24, pulled out of the Italy squad for games against Croatia and Albania last November, prompting a frustrated response from the former Juventus boss who declared the player is running out of time to reverse his fortunes.

The Liverpool striker's continued lack of first-team action saw him omitted from the squad for Italy's 2-2 draw with Bulgaria in a European Championship qualifier last Saturday and the 1-1 friendly draw with England on Tuesday.

It is a far cry from the role Balotelli played under previous boss Cesare Prandelli, who started the striker in all three of Italy's group games at the 2014 World Cup last summer before their elimination.

But Conte has not closed the door on the former Manchester City star returning to the international set up.

"I am keeping an eye on everything the leagues offer," Conte said. "I went to see Southampton v Liverpool and only Graziano Pelle played, as Balotelli and Fabio Borini were on the bench.

"The doors of the Nazionale are open to everyone who shows during their performances that they know what the Italy jersey represents and what it requires.

"I hope Balotelli can give Liverpool significant support and play more often. If this should happen, then the doors are open for the Nazionale."

Balotelli has struggled to win over Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers on his return to the Premier League this season and his efforts to secure first team chances were unaided by the return of Daniel Sturridge, who spent most of the first half of the season out injured.

The Italian could receive further chances in the coming weeks however after Sturridge was ruled out of international duty with a hip injury.

Initial reports suggested the England international could face up to a month out with the problem, although Liverpool are yet to officially confirm the extent of the knock with some reports even suggesting he could return in time for Saturday's clash with Arsenal.