Friday November 15 2019
Nicolato: 'Not enough U21 starters'

Italy Under-21 coach Paolo Nicolato warns that "not enough young Italians are playing regularly at the top level," although three were promoted to the senior squad.

Nicolato's side has had various players drop out of the squad through injury, while midfielder Sandro Tonali was promoted to the first team after several injuries to Italy's senior squad, including Marco Verratti.

Speaking to Rai Sport, Nicolato believes that the players in his squad can get the job done against Iceland and Armenia over the next several days.

"It is true, we complain a lot about the absences in our squad, but we have great confidence in the players that trained during this period. We cannot use the players who have been drafted to the first team, but we have others, and we can use them because we have great faith in their abilities, and it is a great chance for them to play for us.

"We will suffer at the back, and we will have to change three-four elements, even in the middle of the pitch, due to the defections of Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo [to the first team], we will have to shuffle around."

“I tallied up the appearances this season and we have only five regular Serie A starters who qualify for Under-21 duty and three of them are with Mancini in the senior Italy squad,” noted Nicolato.

“There are 13 in Serie B, with another 13 who tend to come off the bench. We don’t have enough young Italians playing at the top level."

Nicolato maintains that his side will still utilise a 4-3-3 formation, saying it is important to keep an identity.

"The 4-3-3 remains, because in this initial phase, we must look for an identity that we have not yet completely found. This week has been important because we had the opportunity to work deeper [on the system] and now we must use it."

Nicolato says that the weather will work to Iceland's advantage.

"I would prefer the pitch in good condition, we are not a physical side like Iceland, but we have good technical qualities and I hope we use them."

Italy are third in their group, behind Ireland and Iceland, but with games in hand.

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