Balotelli blamed his poor Liverpool form on manager Brendan Rodgers’ tactics, but Rodgers refused to be drawn on the comments and wished him well for the season.
Plus, there’s always the fall-back option of Jose Enrique, who Rodgers may be forced to play if injuries pile up.
But earlier this month manager Brendan Rodgers said he hoped the striker would be back by early September.
“We are doing extra sessions on every aspect of our defending in terms of in-game static and moving positions and our set-pieces”, he said ahead of Saturday’s Anfield date with West Ham.
Gomez looks good now, but he’s only four games into his Liverpool career; there’s no telling how his fitness will hold up over a hard, physical season in the Premier League, and the last thing he needs is burnout at such a young age.
Liverpool have spent more than GBP80m on Joe Gomez, Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne, Danny Ings, Christian Benteke and Adam Bogdan.
Rodgers was adamant that was not the solution but over the summer he has been more specific on the work he has done to tighten up his defence and has been rewarded with three successive clean sheets which have brought seven points.
Payet loves to move around the pitch, much like Philippe Coutinho for the Reds, although, James Milner has outrun his Brazilian counterpart this season and he will have to control the Hammers’ axeman.
The controversial player failed to make an impact at Anfield last season, scoring only one goal in 16 Premier League appearances as the club finished sixth in the table.
“There was a lack of stability in the overall group last season and it was a case of reassuring him that he was still a top quality player”.
Rodgers said: “That never concerns me”.
He was unconcerned that Sakho has been left out, saying that though he has respect for the centre-back and the fact he wants to play for France – who have competitive options at the back, Sakho isn’t now the strongest available option to him. If you look at Mamadou’s competition for France, you’ve got Varane, Koscielny and Mangala. “All I can say is that for now Mama’s an important part of our squad”.