Mario Balotelli
Balotelli has recovered from his recent thigh problem. Getty Images

Mario Balotelli is likely to return for Liverpool against Manchester United on Sunday, Brendan Rodgers has claimed.

The former Manchester City and Milan striker has been unavailable since picking up a thigh injury while on international duty in November.

The mercurial striker, who has yet to score in the Premier League following his return to these shores in the summer, last featured for the club in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on 8 November but is in contention to start at Old Trafford, where he struck twice in Manchester City's 6-1 rout in 2011.

"He's only just come back into training so we will see what his fitness is like," Rodgers told a press conference. "In the last few days he's looked good and we'll give him every chance."

However, Adam Lallana is unlikely to feature after failing to recover from cracked ribs which ruled him out of Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Basel.

"He took a nasty injury against Leicester and I wanted to protect the player. He looks fully up to speed, he's had some work done. He's been available, not fully fit, but he looks much better now."

Liverpool's week darkened on Thursday following reports that Raheem Sterling has turned down an offer of a new contract from the club worth £70,000 a week.

But ahead of his side's visit to Old Trafford, Rodgers used the occasion to play down talk of a rift between the player and the club.

"If you look at Raheem's performances that does all his talking. He is very happy here. I know Raheem very well and you can see he is happy here."

Liverpool travel to their arch rivals 15 points adrift of league leaders Chelsea and seven off third place United. Their league form - which has produced just six wins from 15 games - and the club's Champions League exit is a stark contrast to the scenes of last season but Rodgers is hopeful Sunday's occasion proves to be the catalyst for a remarkable turnaround.

"You are representing a city and a group of supporters. We couldn't dwell on the disappointment [of midweek]. The players are back in and working and it's our job as staff to lift that spirit. This is a group that is focused on performing well. It's a perfect game for us."