Wednesday 21 March 2018

Ireland unlikely to face mercurial Mario Balotelli at Euros after omission from preliminary Italy squad

Italian international Mario Balotelli. Photo: PA
Italian international Mario Balotelli. Photo: PA

Mario Balotelli has been left out of Antonio Conte's 30-man Italy squad for a training camp ahead of Sunday's friendly against Scotland in Malta.

Liverpool striker Balotelli, who has spent the campaign on loan at AC Milan, misses out along with veteran playmaker Andrea Pirlo and forward Sebastian Giovinco, who both now ply their trade in Major League Soccer.

West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna, Manchester United full-back Matteo Darmian and Southampton striker Graziano Pelle are all included.

Sunderland forward Fabio Borini is overlooked, but midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini, who spent the 2015-16 season on loan at Bologna, will attend.

Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne has been named in the provisional 30-strong squad, but Genoa striker Leonardo Pavoletti, who finished Serie A as the top-scoring Italian, misses out.

Milan captain Riccardo Montolivo and Paris St Germain midfielder Thiago Motta will both be assessed over fitness concerns, while Udinese's Italy Under-19 international Alex Meret is also set to gain some experience with the first-team squad as an auxiliary goalkeeper.

Conte, who will take over at Chelsea next season, will bring the group together at their Coverciano base before travelling out to Malta ahead of the clash with Gordon Strachan's side at the Ta'Qali Stadium.

The Azzurri are in Group E at Euro 2016 alongside Belgium, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.

Conte will cut his numbers down to a final 23-man squad on May 31.

Italy's last warm-up match will be against Finland at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi in Verona on June 6, with the opening Euro 2016 fixture set for June 13 in Lyon against Belgium.

Italy 30-man squad for training camp and friendly against Scotland:

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Federico Marchetti (Lazio), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St Germain), Alex Meret (Udinese); Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham), Daniele Rugani (Juventus); Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Davide Zappacosta (Torino); Marco Benassi (Torino), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Emanuele Giaccherini (Bologna), Jorginho (Napoli), Riccardo Montolivo (Milan), Thiago Motta (Paris St Germain), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Stefano Sturaro (Juventus); Eder (Inter), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Juventus).

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