Balotelli snubbed for Euro qualifiers

2015-10-04 11:07
Mario Balotelli (Supplied)
Mario Balotelli (Supplied)

Milan - AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli was snubbed as Italy coach Antonio Conte revealed a 27-man squad for the Azzurri's final Euro 2016 qualifiers away to Azerbaijan and at home to Norway.

Balotelli returned to seven-time European champions Milan on loan from Liverpool this summer in a bid to kickstart his flagging career.

But the Italian has started only two games for Milan this season, hitting his first goal in a 3-2 win over Udinese a fortnight ago.

Balotelli has not trained with Milan this week as he recovers from a slight muscle injury, and has not been called into Sinisa Mihajlovic's squad for Sunday's Serie A game at home to Napoli.

Italy coach Conte instead handed Domenico Berardi of Sassuolo his first call-up to the Italy set-up, which also welcomes the return of Riccardo Montolivo following the Milan midfielder's recent recovery from a lengthy injury problem.

Among the absentees from Conte's squad is Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi, who will sit out a two-game ban following his expulsion against Bulgaria.

Italy were beaten finalists at Euro 2012 but the Azzurri failed to get past the first round at the past two editions of the World Cup. At Brazil 2014, Balotelli became one of several scapegoats in an underperforming Italy side.

Italy sit top of qualifying Group H with a two-point cushion on Norway, with Croatia a further two points adrift.

Conte's side can secure their ticket to the Euro 2016 finals in France with victory over Azerbaijan in Baku on October 10.

Azerbaijan have one win and four losses from eight games so far, although Italy only beat Robert Prosinecki's men 2-1 in Palermo last month.

Italy host Norway in Rome's Stadio Olimpico three days later in their final qualifier.

Read more on:    italy  |  euro 2016  |  mario balotelli  |  soccer

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