Monday October 5 2015
‘Balotelli wouldn’t have been called’

Italy CT Antonio Conte reveals Mario Balotelli wouldn’t have been called-up, even without his injury.

There was speculation the Milan striker would return to the Azzurri fold, before he picked up a muscular injury, but the national team boss says he was never in contention.

“There’s still a path to follow to get to the national team,” Conte explained in a Press conference at Coverciano.

“Two games are not enough to re-open the doors. I need certainty, and that goes for him and everyone else.

“We need consistency and good performances. Mario has to be determined, and look for consistency.”

The former Juventus Coach did single out another striker for praise, Southampton’s Graziano Pelle.

“He sacrifices so much, he plays for the team and that’s key. I’m happy to have a player with his characteristics, he is good at playing as a lone-striker or in a pair.”

Team manager Gabriele Oriali decried the lack of Italians playing in Serie A, and the CT was asked if he agreed with that assessment.

“It’s a situation that everyone can see, but it shouldn’t be an excuse,” Conte replied.

“We have to work, and do the best with what he have. A new rule has already been put in place, and we hope the number of Italians can increase.

“I have a group of 40 players [in contention] and I can fit more in.”