International news

Prandelli leaves door open for Di Natale

November 7, 2011

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has not ruled out a return to international football for Antonio Di Natale, despite the striker again being left out of his latest squad.

Antonio Di Natale
GettyImagesAntonio Di Natale has not featured for Italy since last year's World Cup

Di Natale, who is Serie A's leading scorer with eight goals, was not named in the Azzurri's 24-man squad on Sunday for this month's friendlies against Poland and Uruguay.

The Udinese forward has not featured for Italy since last year's World Cup, fuelling speculation his international career may have already come to an end.

However, Prandelli indicated that is not the case and has left the door open for the 34-year-old to return to the fold down the line.

"There is no need to call up Di Natale for these games,'' Prandelli said to Rai Sport. "We are aware of his value and he does not need to prove anything. I do consider Di Natale's return.''

Prandelli was unable to include strikers Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi in his latest squad.

AC Milan's Cassano underwent a minor heart procedure last week and will be out of action indefinitely while Rossi, who plays for Villarreal, is sidelined for six months with a knee injury.

"They are two great losses for us,'' he said. "They are very important players and we will wait for them to return.''

Prandelli believes Rossi and Cassano's absence will provide an opportunity for other players, especially Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli, to shine.

Balotelli is among several players who return to the national team after missing last month's Euro 2012 qualifiers through injury.

"From the very beginning I tried to place Balotelli in between (Giuseppe) Rossi and (Antonio) Cassano,'' Prandelli said. "Now he (Balotelli) is in and the others are out and Mario will have a great opportunity to show his value. We have a lot of faith in him.''

Prandelli will be without Parma striker Sebastian Giovinco, who left Italy's squad on Monday after being ruled out with a muscular injury.

Italy travel to Wroclaw to face Poland on Friday before hosting Uruguay on November 15 in Rome.