Italy boss Cesare Prandelli has explained why Antonio Cassano has been left out of his squad for the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Azzurri will take on Bulgaria and Malta over the course of the next eight days, but the new Inter man has not been selected.
“Cassano has said that he is currently only at 50-60 per cent and, at this moment, I don’t have time to recover players because we need to win games to qualify,” Prandelli noted.
“He just has to re-find his form, then there will only be tactical decisions to make.
“I can’t take any risks in these qualifying games with players who are not in perfect physical condition. There is a lot at stake here.
“Giorgio Chiellini and Thiago Motta haven’t been picked because they are not at their best after Euro 2012 too.”
Given the absence of Cassano and Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli, Prandelli has recalled Roma’s Pablo Osvaldo and new Milan man Giampaolo Pazzini in attack.
“We wanted to underline with these two selections that everyone has a chance to be picked,” the former Fiorentina tactician continued.
“Considering the absence of Balotelli, we’re thinking about changing the way we play and that is the reason why Osvaldo and Pazzini are here.
“Osvaldo looked on edge last season, but he is an attacker who could do well for our cause. He’s a modern forward.”
Prandelli used a 3-5-2 and a 4-3-1-2 system at Euro 2012 and he’s admitted that he’s hoping to continue evolving his side.
“I want a side that plays with more intensity, so I need to have tactical alternatives. We’ll try a few new things in training, starting from today.
“A three-man defence? Let’s calm down, I don’t think we’ll change things straight away, even if I don’t think I can say at this point that we’ll play with four at the back on Friday.
“I need to try out a few tests.”
Prandelli has included a new face in the squad – Napoli sensation Lorenzo Insigne who is one of a number of young Italian players being given a chance.
“I’ve seen some good football in these first two rounds, it has been at a good level and there has been intensity,” the CT added.
“We are taking steps in the right direction. In the Italian Super Cup two years ago between Roma and Inter, there were just two Italians playing, now things are changing…”
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk