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Balotelli Injured on International Duty with Italy

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Mario Balotelli's second chance with Italy is cut short, with the striker reportedly returning to Merseyside after suffering a hamstring injury ahead of their Euro qualifier against Croatia.

Claudio Villa

Redemption was supposed to be on the horizon for Mario Balotelli for both club and country--at Liverpool he was set to join Daniel Sturridge in attack, finally boosted by the presence of a true strike partner (even though that option has been available to Brendan Rodgers in the form of Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini) as Sturridge returns to fitness, and for Italy he was back in the squad for the first time since the World Cup, ready to reassert himself in the squad after a relatively long spell out.

Now both appear in jeopardy, and the latter is, at least for the time being, ruled out completely. The 24-year-old has returned to Liverpool after suffering a hamstring injury in training, with no information available about a potential timeline for his recovery. It means he misses out on a Euro qualifier against Croatia and friendly against Albania; the former might not have afforded too many minutes given that he's just back in the squad, but at minimum he should have seen an extended run-out against Albania and a chance to build some momentum for himself after a difficult start to the season.

Unfortunately any chance at progress is now halted, and Liverpool's medical staff will have to work to determine the extent of the injury as well as how long they'll have to go without. With Sturridge back in training and reportedly set for an appearance against Crystal Palace, Balotelli's absence might not have as much of an impact, but assuming that was the plan, it would have been nice to see him get a chance alongside Sturridge, and for Liverpool to have options going forward.

Hopefully he's not ruled out too long, and that as Liverpool enter a crowded month of December, he's back and ready to contribute.