Stan Collymore: It's too early to judge Mario Balotelli

The ex-Liverpool striker has leapt to the Italian's defence - but admits Brendan Rodgers will have a 'massive headache' if he is still misfiring by January.

Former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore has leapt to the defence of £16 million striker Mario Balotelli.

The Italian has endured an abject start to his Anfield career since joining from AC Milan this summer, scoring just once for Brendan Rodgers' side - in the Champions League against Ludogorets.

But Collymore, never one to shy away from expressing his opinion, says it is too early to judge the 24-year-old.

He does admit, however, that Balotelli will become 'a major headache' if he is still struggling by January. 

"Mario Balotelli can't say anything without the media jumping all over it," Collymore wrote in his latest Bleacher Report column.

"His latest comments to talkSPORT about playing as a lone striker, via Eurosport and Football Italia, aren't surprising, based on his career to date.

"What I want to see from Liverpool is the partnership of Mario Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge over a few games. Before then, it's too soon to make a judgement.

"Liverpool only paid £16 million for Balotelli, which is not a lot. That said, it's hard to see him delivering for more than a season without problems arising. Let's judge Balotelli in January. If it's not working by then, Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers have a major headache."

Sturridge should return for the Reds at Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, where he may partner Balotelli at Loftus Road.

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