Pellegrini gets 1st Italy call, Kean and Zaniolo dropped

ROME (AP) — Italy coach Roberto Mancini has included Cagliari defender Luca Pellegrini in his 26-man squad for upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Armenia and Finland.

It is a first call-up for the 20-year-old Pellegrini, who was signed by Juventus from Roma in the offseason, although he was immediately loaned back to Cagliari where he spent the second half of last season on loan.

Mario Balotelli has again been left out while Moise Kean and Nicolo Zaniolo have been demoted to the Under-21 squad as continued punishment for showing up late to an Azzurrini team meeting ahead of a European Championship Under-21 match in June.

Kean, who recently moved to Everton from Juventus, made his international debut against Finland in a European Championship qualifier in March, when he became the youngest player to score for Italy since 1958.

Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini had to withdraw from the squad shortly after it was announced on Friday after the Juventus defender tore his anterior cruciate ligament in training.

Chiellini, who will undergo knee surgery in the coming days, has been replaced by Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi.

Both Italy’s matches are away, against Armenia on Sept. 5 and Finland three days later.

The Azzurri lead Group J, having won all four of their matches.