Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has warned Mario Balotelli that he might have to get used to life on the bench.
Balotelli has failed to live up to expectations since moving to Anfield from Milan in August, and is still awaiting his first Premier League goal for the Merseyside club.
The controversial Italy striker has not started a game since last month's 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea due to a groin injury and a one-match ban for posting a picture on social media containing potentially offensive language.
Rodgers' side have shown something of an upturn in form in recent weeks after the Northern Irishman switched his formation to a 3-4-3, with Raheem Sterling playing as an auxiliary striker.
Fit-again Balotelli is expected to be named among Liverpool's substitutes for their Boxing Day trip to Burnley after missing last Sunday's 2-2 draw with Arsenal through suspension.
And, with Sterling impressing in his advanced role and Daniel Sturridge's long-awaited return from injury on the horizon, Rodgers has indicated that the 24-year-old faces a battle to regain a place in his starting XI.
"It's something he would have to get used to," explained Rodgers.
"If the team is going to need him from the bench then it's something he would have to become adjusted to. It's the same for every single player, not just him. When called upon, whether it's to start a game or come off the bench, you ask your players to be ready."
Balotelli's languid style of play has often appeared at odds with the relentless pressing and aggression with which Liverpool - led by Sturridge and Luis Suarez - went so close to winning last season's Premier League title.
And Rodgers admitted that the former Manchester City man is not suited to performing in a similarly high-tempo fashion.
"We have seen it's not really his game," the Northern Irishman added.
"Working with him for the period of time he's been here we have seen that he's probably someone who's better in and around the box.
"That level of intensity and pressing isn't part of his game.
"But you try to get the best out of the players you have and the qualities they have.
"So that's something we will focus on. The most important thing is he is now available and adds another player to the squad."comments