Tardelli backs axed Balotelli to play major role at Euros
MARCO Tardelli believes that Ireland will have to cope with the threat of Mario Balotelli in Poland this summer despite the controversial Manchester City striker's absence from the Italy squad for their friendly with the United States tomorrow night.
Balotelli has been dropped by Cesare Prandelli, with the Azzurri boss publicly questioning the striker's attitude. "You can't be in the national squad if you risk leaving the team with 10 men," said Prandelli.
Nevertheless, Tardelli feels that the talented 21-year-old will be in Poznan on June 18 in Ireland's final Euro 2012 group match.
"I don't know why (he misses US match) and it's not my business, but Cesare knows Italian football," said the Irish assistant boss in Malahide yesterday.
"I think Balotelli will be in the squad for the Euros. He plays very, very well and the Italian team needs him."
Tardelli was certainly not expecting the omission of Fernando Torres from the Spain squad for their clash with Venezuela tomorrow night.
Torres has suffered a horrendous 12 months and it's now possible that the man who scored the winning goal in the Euro 2008 final could miss out on the defence of the trophy.
Vicente del Bosque has challenged the Chelsea star to play his way back into the side, while adding that his form has been "irregular".
"Torres is a bigger surprise for me. I don't know if the coach decides to include Torres for the European Championships," added Tardelli, who knows that whatever happens, Del Bosque will have a range of quality attacking options available in Gdansk on June 14.
Irish scouts will be watching Spain, Italy and Croatia in action this week -- the latter host Sweden in Zagreb. Tardelli thinks that fellow qualifiers Czech Republic will provide a good test, but the visitors will be without Arsenal star Tomas Rosicky.
Giovanni Trapattoni has a strong panel to choose from. There was a lively 10 v 10 match in training yesterday, although Kevin Doyle and Keith Fahey were reduced to the role of spectators due to minor knocks.
Stephen Kelly has returned to Fulham with a thigh issue, and Keiren Westwood -- who was in Malahide earlier in the day -- is out of the game with a wrist injury.
Westwood's setback has opened the door for Portsmouth's Stephen Henderson, who is called up for the first time. Henderson comes from a famous Dublin goalkeeping family and follows in the footsteps of his uncle Wayne, who was capped under Steve Staunton before injury ended his career.