Prandelli unmoved over Balotelli selection

2012-05-14 14:13

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said he was not concerned over the volatility of Mario Balotelli after naming the Manchester City striker in his 32-strong provisional squad for Euro 2012.

Prandelli is known to have a no-tolerance policy towards ill-discipline and has always excluded players from his squad if they are serving a club ban for violent conduct.

He previously excluded Balotelli for February’s friendly with the United States as he served a suspension for kicking Tottenham’s Scott Parker in the head.

He was then sent off again in Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal in early April and was relegated to the bench for the Premier League run-in which saw City see off Manchester United with two injury-time goals yesterday.

But with Italy lacking consistent fire?power up front, Prandelli has opted for giving Balotelli another chance at glory in the Euro 2012 which takes place in Poland and Ukraine from June 8 to July 1.

“Balotelli? We will not be having someone following him after his every step, absolutely not,” the coach told journalists at the Italian team’s national training centre.

“It will be the overall team spirit that will help keep him focused on the job on hand.
“He is motivated and determined to display all his talents.”

Prandelli’s other favoured striker, Antonio Cassano, has only just returned to action in early April after heart surgery and he ignored Alessandro Matri and Giampaolo Pazzini, two players he used in his first two years as Italy coach.

Instead he has called up 34-year-old Antonio Di Natale of AC Milan, Siena youngster Mattia Destro and Sebastian Giovinco of Parma.

“I defy anyone to find me better players in their positions than Giovinco and Di Natale. They have both shown all season how good they are”.

Five uncapped players have been included – Destro, Emanuele Giaccherini, Ezequiel Schelotto, Marco Verratti and Angelo Ogbonna.

The provisional squad will be trimmed to 23 on May 29.

Italy are in Group C with holders Spain, Republic of Ireland and Croatia.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint Germain/FRA), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Emiliano Viviano (Palermo)

Defenders: Cristian Maggio (Napoli), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St Petersburg/RUS), Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Federico Balzaretti (Palermo), Davide Astori (Cagliari), Salvatore Bocchetti (Rubin Kazan/RUS), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan), Angelo Ogbonna (Torino)

Midfielders: Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint Germain/FRA), Antonio Nocerino (AC Milan), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Ezequiel Schelotto (Atalanta) Luca Cigarini (Atalanta), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna), Marco Verratti (Pescara)

Strikers: Antonio Cassano (AC Milan), Mario Balotelli (Manchester City/ENG), Sebastian Giovinco (Parma), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Mattia Destro (Siena), Fabio Borini (Roma)

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