Italy news

Prandelli explains Cassano decision

September 4, 2012
By Adam Digby, Italy correspondent

Cesare Prandelli left Antonio Cassano out of his latest squad as Italy begin their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign due to his lack of fitness.

Antonio Cassano
PA PhotosAntonio Cassano is out of Cesare Prandelli's Italy squad

Cassano, 30, was a vital member of the Azzurri side which reached the final of the European Championship this summer but is absent from the list of call-ups for games against Bulgaria and Malta.

"Cassano has said that he is currently only at 50-60% and at the moment I don't have time for unfit players because we need to win games to qualify. He just has to re-find his form then there will only be tactical decisions to make," Prandelli explained.

"I can't take any risks in these qualifying games with players who are not in perfect physical condition as 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."

Prandelli also selected Roma's Pablo Osvaldo and Milan's Giampaolo Pazzini to replace Mario Balotelli who is set to undergo eye surgery.

"We wanted to emphasise with these two selections that everyone has a chance to be picked. 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. 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," Prandelli said.