Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli back in Italy squad
MILAN — Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli was recalled to the Italy squad on Sunday, receiving his first call up under new boss Antonio Conte.
Balotelli was omitted from Conte’s first two squads but has been included in the 26-man list for next week’s crucial qualifier at home to Croatia.
Alessio Cerci was also included for the first time since Italy’s disappointing World Cup.
Torino defender Emiliano Moretti received a first call up to the national side, as did Genoa and Sampdoria midfielders Andrea Bertolacci and Roberto Soriano.
The latter two were selected for pre-World Cup fitness tests in April.
Juventus playmaker Andrea Pirlo is sidelined with injury, as is Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne.
Italy hosts Croatia in Milan on Nov. 16 in a qualifying match for the 2016 European Championship, with both teams level at the top of Group H after winning their opening two matches.
The Azzurri play Albania in an international friendly in Genoa two days later, but another squad will be announced for that during the week.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain).
Defenders: Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Emiliano Moretti (Torino), Angelo Ogbonna (Juventus), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan), Daniele Rugani (Empoli).
Midfielders: Andrea Bertolacci (Genoa), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Alessio Cerci (Atletico Madrid), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan),Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Roberto Soriano (Sampdoria), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Liverpool), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Borussia Dortmund), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Sassuolo).