Thursday September 5 2019
Mancini: 'If Balo wants to be at Euro 2020...'

Roberto Mancini warns Italy not to under-estimate Armenia, believes they have foundations for the Euro 2020 squad and says what Mario Balotelli must do to join them.

The Euro 2020 qualifier kicks off in Yerevan at 17.00 UK time (16.00 GMT), click here for the LIVEBLOG.

“No game must be under-estimated, especially not one that comes four months after our last get-together, so we can expect more problems than usual,” the CT told Rai Sport.

“Federico Bernardeschi has a lot of quality, technique and physicality. It’s true, he hasn’t really played in the first two rounds of the season, but he knows what we want very well and we think he can be the best choice for this game.

“We’d like to bring in new players who have done well, but the important thing is that those who are already here continue to improve.”

Mancini was forced into a reshuffle of his squad after a series of injuries.

“I think it’s just a coincidence, but we all know injuries are more common at the start of the season. It’s a real shame about the serious injuries, because there are players who are out for five or six months.

“The work we’re doing is giving fruit, we have to improve a lot, but there are strong foundations already. We’ve got a year to go before Euro 2020, so we’ll set no limits and let the pitch be the judge. We are open to all situations.

“The players we have here, including the centre-forwards, are the best available right now. We hope they can reach the tournament in good shape. There are some who are outside and could come in, that depends on them.”

Does that include Mario Balotelli, who just returned to Serie A for Brescia?

“I hope he can see returning to his hometown as an opportunity to totally relaunch his career. He is 29 years old and should be at his peak. A player of his quality cannot totally lose everything he showed over the years. It depends on him.

“If Mario scores 25 goals, presses opponents, works with the team and does everything that a 29-year-old should do, then I think he could have a chance for Italy. However, it’s important for him that he has an important season.”

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