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Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Prandelli: Recalling Criscito was easy

Adam Digby, Italy Correspondent

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has told reporters that his decision to recall Domenico Criscito to his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Armenia and Denmark "wasn't difficult at all".

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Prandelli also said he felt "upset" by Mario Balotelli's decision to skip the previous round of international games.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the coach detailed his reasons for recalling Zenit St Petersburg's Criscito, who was dropped from the Azzurri's Euro 2012 squad after being arrested for alleged involvement in match-fixing.

The 25-year-old has been cleared of any wrongdoing, and Prandelli said: "It was both a technical and personal decision, and wasn't difficult at all.

"When the Public Prosecutor's office of Genoa dismissed the notice of investigation, it was the right time to cap Criscito again.

"We know how it all happened, and it is useless to keep going over all the difficulties that we have, so it's a pleasure for me to have him here. When he gets back on the pitch with his team-mates, we can forget what happened and the suffering there's been."

Prandelli then addressed his inclusion of Balotelli, who underwent eye surgery last month, at the expense of Antonio Cassano and Antonio Di Natale.

He explained: "To tell you the truth, I felt upset when Balotelli decided to have an operation in the two weeks when the national team had to play official matches.

"In any case, I've called him and am counting on his pride and his talent. We will see if he has the willingness to become a champion.

"The Azzurri shirt is a wonderful thing for all players. I had some thoughts about dropping him, but then I thought of the games he has played for his country and I was comforted."

The coach said he had "opted to continue on the path of renewal and count on young guys", but stressed that he had not closed the door on Cassano. He added: "It's the same approach we had for Di Natale - he has kept on working hard and he has been there in crucial moments."

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