Cesare Prandelli has confirmed that he will select Udinese forward Antonio Di Natale for Italy’s next international fixture.
Since the start of the 2009-10 season, Di Natale has been Italy’s most prolific forward at club level, netting 67 goals in 84 League appearances, but he has yet to feature in Prandelli’s plans with the national team since he took over as Commissario Tecnico in July 2010.
However, in an interview being run in several publications including La Repubblica, Prandelli confirmed that in light of long-term injuries to Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi, his consideration of other options includes the 34-year-old.
“When you have to change course, you look for different players who can provide continuity over time, and then assess those who helped with qualification.
“For Di Natale it is a different matter - for the third consecutive year he could reach the heights of realisation.”
Di Natale has finished as Capocannoniere in his last two seasons and, with 10 goals to his name already this term, he remains on course to compete for a third successive scoring title.
“I have a wide choice in attack, but currently only [Mario] Balotelli is fine. In February for the friendly with the U.S. I will call up Di Natale.
“I’m curious to see him with Balotelli. Both are points of movement and can run like Rossi and Cassano.”
The former Fiorentina tactician also revealed that his selection plans in the run-up to next summer’s European Championships in Poland and Ukraine are still at the planning stage.
“There are three separate stages set by department,” says Prandelli, in reference to reported plans to call up groups of players by position in mini training get-togethers.
“There are barely three Mondays between March and April, to be used for training and education. I’m not asking for much, but for now I have not had the answers [from the players’ clubs].
“[I would like to call] 12 defenders, then 12 midfielders, then 12 attackers, with the addition of five or six goalkeepers every time. The sessions will give players of different teams a common knowledge of game situations, plus I can keep an eye on the 45 best Italian players.
“I would never normally call this many but I have not had a lot of time for teaching.”