Mario ready for Azzurri chance

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is set to hand Balotelli a starting

place in Friday’s friendly against Poland with regular strikers

Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi ruled out until the new year by

injury. Asked at Wednesday’s national team press conference whether

he felt more pressure because Cassano and Rossi were not involved

at the moment, Balotelli said: “I always have pressure but I don’t

feel it. “The coach expects a lot from me even with Rossi and

Cassano in the team. “We are all strong and in the future, we can

enter the history books together. “But I’m ready to assume the

responsibility, I’ve always been ready. “Perhaps there are people

that think otherwise.” The 21-year-old Balotelli has often made

headlines for the wrong reasons. Just last month fireworks were set

off in the bathroom of his house, forcing the striker to stay in a

hotel just a day before the derby clash with Manchester United.

“When you are famous, there’s a tendency to talk more about my

personal life than what I do on the pitch,” Balotelli said. “It’s

normal but it annoys me. “But I am not crazy, absolutely not,

although sometimes I do strange things that are considered

entertaining.” Balotelli prefers to do his talking on the pitch and

he feels he has improved as a player since joining Manchester City

from Inter Milan in August 2010. “The Premier League has taught me

to run a lot,” he said. “To go for the ball and when I lose it to

press to recover it. “Now I have more playing time and this gives

me more confidence. “Prandelli and (Manchester City manager

Roberto) Mancini have helped me a lot, giving me the necessary

calmness to play, something I didn’t have previously.” The former

Inter star will be hoping to score his first goal for Italy on

Friday. Balotelli has made five appearances for the Azzurri but has

yet to open his goal tally. “I need to wake up and get going,” he

said. “For me scoring is the biggest thing. Victories are important

but so are goals. “I know I can arrive to the top. If I’m good up

front it’s not because I’m fortunate. “I do believe I can get

closer to the level of other champions but I still have a lot of

work to do.” Balotelli, who is under contract at City until 2015,

believes his long-term future is in the Premier League. “I don’t

miss Serie A,” he said. “I’m very happy to be in England. “Italian

football has been in decline. “The Premier League is beautiful and

I play for the strongest team in England. “I want to remain at

City. I don’t see a return to play in Italy in the future.”