Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has revealed the extent of the fever that forced him to miss the FA Cup quarter-final replay against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
The Italy international was absent from the Reds' squad for the game through illness and after coming in for criticism from BT Sport pundit Robbie Savage, he posted an image on Instagram detailing the reason behind his absence.
Balotelli uploaded a picture of himself holding a thermometer which read 38.7C, quashing any speculation that the Liverpool forward's absence had been exaggerated in the wake of his £16m (£24m) move from AC Milan in the summer of 2014.
"Nothing stop me to watch my team winning," Balotelli wrote. "At least this time you know the real reason why I am out. Miss the pitch so much [sic]."
In the absence of Balotelli, Daniel Sturridge led the Liverpool attack, with Rickie Lambert coming on as an 85<sup>th-minute substitute for Brendan Rodgers's side, who face Aston Villa in the semi-final at Wembley on 18 April.
The omission of Balotelli, who also missed the 4-1 defeat to Arsenal, was initially met by scepticism by television pundit Savage, who questioned the reasoning behind him being left out of the game against the Championship side for a defining game in Liverpool's season.
Savage said: "Pathetic isn't it? You're going to miss an FA Cup quarter-final? I don't know how unwell he is, but to miss an FA Cup quarter-final when you're feeling a bit ill? Nonsense. I would have to be really, really ill to miss that game."
Philippe Coutinho's late goal saw Liverpool through to the last four and prior to the game, Rodgers explained the reason for Balotelli's absence, which comes less than a week before the resumption of their Premier League campaign against Newcastle United.
"He travelled and he trained well," Rodgers told BT Sport. "But he fell ill last night and woke up not feeling great. The advice was to send him back."