Liverpool morning news, Sturridge derby return, Dalglish backs Balotelli

A selection of the latest stories involving Liverpool Football Club this Thursday morning.

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has been ruled out of this weekend's clash with Aston Villa, and the Reds' return to the Champions League against Ludogorets on Tuesday, after picking up a thigh injury on international duty with England.

The Liverpool Echo reports that he could still play a part against West Ham United but the Merseyside derby on September 27 at Anfield is looking the more realistic target for the forward to return.

The man who is likely to take on the burden for scoring goals in Sturridge's absence is Mario Balotelli, who has received backing from Kenny Dalglish to succeed at the club.

He's quoted in the Daily Mail: "It is a happy dressing room. He’s got a manager who is not confrontational but at the same time can instil discipline. So if he wants to settle down, I’m sure he will at Liverpool and that he’ll be a fantastic asset for the club.

"I think there are entertaining times ahead. He’s a fantastic footballer. He will be fantastically received by those wonderful supporters and I’m sure he’ll make a huge contribution."

Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre has said the club has learnt from the dark days of the Hicks and Gillett era at the club when speaking at a Soccerex convention in Manchester.

He said: “It taught us the importance of sustainability and running the club properly. No-one wants to go back to those dark days again.

“There was a lot to focus on: we had to improve the squad overall and that took investment at a time when we had little cash and a lot of debt. And it is testament to our new owners that they invested heavily and we started to improve the on-pitch side. It was also important to put in the pieces to take the business of the club forward, because in a world of Financial Fair Play and sustainability they are the things which generate the revenue to buy the players."

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