Brendan Rodgers has provided an update on Mario Balotelli ahead of Liverpool's FA Cup quarter-final replay date against Blackburn Rovers.
The Reds travel to Ewood Park on 8 April on the back of a bitter 4-1 defeat to Arsenal in the Premier League, a match which Balotelli supposedly ruled himself out of after suffering a knock to his knee in training last week.
The former Manchester City striker, who has endured a disappointing debut campaign on Merseyside following a £16m transfer from AC Milan in August 2014, would surely have featured on the substitutes bench at the Emirates Stadium had he been fit enough, and Rodgers confirmed in a recent press conference that he is facing a late fitness test ahead of Blackburn.
"We'll see how Mario is this morning," he was quoted as saying by ESPN.
Balotelli, as he has throughout the majority of his controversial career, has received a lot of criticism this season having scored just four goals in all competitions for his club. He was also left out of Antonio Conte's latest Italy squad for the Euro 2016 qualifier in Bulgaria and the friendly against England.
Despite that modest return and mounting speculation concerning a premature exit, however, the 24-year-old recently took to social media in what appeared to be a slightly bizarre attempt to reinforce his commitment to Liverpool.
"We know… We know… We ❤️ Liverpool," Balotelli wrote on Instagram next to a picture of him admiring a cardboard cutout of himself.
For Liverpool, victory over Blackburn would go some way to appeasing disgruntled supporters after a second consecutive defeat to a top-four rival left the club's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League for the second consecutive year in tatters.
Blackburn recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over 10-man Leeds in their last Championship fixture as Jordan Rhodes extended his tally for the season to 17 goals, yet Gary Bowyer's men are currently besieged by fitness problems with strikers Rudy Gestede and Chris Brown having added their names to a long list of injury doubts.
Aside from Balotelli, Rodgers will be without Martin Skrtel as he sits out the second game of a three-match suspension handed down after he was adjudged to have stamped on David de Gea in the narrow loss to Manchester United in March. Winger Jordan Ibe remains sidelined with a hamstring problem.