The options open to Liverpool with both Mario Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge fit

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Daniel Sturridge is about to return to fitness, and Mario Balotelli's injury is not as bad as first feared, so here's what options they can give Liverpool when both fit.

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is expected to be fit for the trip to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace on Sunday despite withdrawing from the Italy squad because of a hamstring injury.

However, the injury isn't believed to be serious, and the Reds are set to have both Balotelli and the returning Daniel Sturridge available for this weekend's trip to take on Neil Warnock's side.

With Sturridge returning after injuries to his thigh and calf, there has been plenty of talk that Brendan Rodgers may opt for a two-man attack, just as he did the only other time when Balotelli and Sturridge played against each other in the 3-0 win over Tottenham at the end of August.

The diamond worked effectively that day, and the Reds may opt for it again as it worked for most of last season's 3-3 draw with Palace last season which effectively ended Liverpool's hopes of ending their 24-year wait for a league title.

But with Brendan Rodgers still keen to offer some protection for his fragile defence, it still wouldn't be surprising to see a front three of sorts line up at Selhurst Park on Sunday. Mario Balotelli may well play better with a strike partner, but we have also seen his fondness of occupying the left channel - which leaves room for one player to play through the middle.

This would leave Raheem Sterling making up the other member of the three from a wider role. However, if the side presses well enough, there is scant difference between the 4-4-2 diamond and a 4-3-3. The former would probably allow the full-backs of Alberto Moreno and Glen Johnson to get into the game more often in attacking positions and flood the penalty area if the Reds can pin their opponents back.

One thing that playing with a front three would allow Rodgers to do is play one or the other. With crucial fixtures coming up for the Reds - both domestic and on the continent - given the importance that Sturridge carries, there will be an element of handling him with care as they try and get the best out of him, as well as keeping him fit. That's when the likes of Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Lazar Markovic could come into contention in order to lighten the load so to speak, depending on how Rodgers wants to approach or manage a game.

Liverpool fans will be keen to see how Sturridge and Balotelli work together, and see if one can get the best out of the other, allowing the Reds to progress on the field after a difficult start to the season.

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