Del Piero, Cassano in Italy's provisional squad

May 20, 2008

ROME, May 20 (Reuters) - Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero and Sampdoria forward Antonio Cassano have been included in Italy's provisional 24-man squad for Euro 2008, coach Roberto Donadoni said on Tuesday.

Del Piero, 33, has not played for the world champions in eight months but was expected to be included after finishing as Serie A's top scorer for the first time with 21 goals this term.

'Del Piero has done well, he has had a great season,' Donadoni, who has agreed a new two-year contract through to the 2010 World Cup, told a news conference.

'He had a first phase with some difficulties then there was a continual improvement and he did what he did and that has permitted him to wear the national team shirt again.'

Cassano, on loan from Real Madrid, has produced some inspired displays this season but Donadoni had resisted calling him up because of worries over his bouts of indiscipline.

The colourful 25-year-old, who picked up the last of his 10 caps in 2006, was banned for five games in March for verbally abusing a referee and throwing his shirt towards him.

Cassano told Samp's website: 'It was one of my objectives. I am happy to have reached it after an exciting season. This call-up gives me great satisfaction.'

Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo was the only other surprise inclusion, with Donadoni having to trim one name before submitting his final squad to UEFA on May 28.

Italy's squad will meet on Sunday after Saturday's Cup final between Serie A champions Inter Milan and runners-up AS Roma. Italy's only friendly before Euro 2008 is against Belgium in Florence on May 30.

There was as expected no place in the squad for 34-year-old AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi, who was dropped with Del Piero after a lacklustre showing in September's 0-0 qualifying draw with France.

'Evidently an injury during my club season was enough not to even deserve a phone call, to cancel what I thought was an adult and mature relationship. I'm disappointed I was wrong,' Inzaghi told Milan's website.

Del Piero, capped 85 times, has been employed by Donadoni on the left hand side of Italy's favoured three-pronged attack, a position the Juve stalwart has openly said he dislikes.

His wish to play as a main striker means he is unlikely to be first choice in the tournament being co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland in June.

Italy face the Netherlands, Romania and France in Group C.

Roma forward Francesco Totti and AC Milan defenders Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta have retired from internationals. Totti is in any case out until next season with a knee injury.

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Marco Amelia (Livorno), Morgan De Sanctis (Sevilla)

Defenders: Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Marco Materazzi (Inter Milan), Christian Panucci (AS Roma), Andrea Barzagli (Palermo), Gianluca Zambrotta (Barcelona), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Fabio Grosso (Lyon)

Midfielders: Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan), Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan), Massimo Ambrosini (AC Milan), Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Simone Perrotta (AS Roma), Alberto Aquilani (AS Roma), Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina)

Forwards: Luca Toni (Bayern Munich), Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Marco Borriello (Genoa), Fabio Quagliarella (Udinese), Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria, on loan from Real Madrid)