Balotelli must show he ‘de­serves’ call

The China Post - - SPORTS -

If Mario Balotelli wants to re­turn to Italy’s squad, coach An­to­nio Conte says he’ll have to show that he de­serves a spot.

An­drea Pirlo and Se­bas­tian Giovinco, mean­while, will be called up to the na­tional team for Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship qual­i­fiers against Malta and Bulgaria next week, af­ter their re­cent moves to MLS.

Balotelli hasn’t played for Italy since the Az­zurri were elim­i­nated in the first round of last year’s World Cup. On Thurs­day, he was loaned back to AC Mi­lan af­ter scor­ing only one goal in the Premier League for Liver­pool last sea­son.

“The doors to the na­tional team are not closed for any­one. But you have to de­serve to be part of this team, via per­for­mances, be­hav­ior and moral as­pects which we be­lieve a lot in,” Conte said Fri­day.

Balotelli was called up once last year by Conte but then was in­jured and sent home.

“It’s up to Balotelli to de­serve an even­tual re­turn,” Conte added.

Conte will name his squad on Satur­day. The Az­zurri sit sec­ond in Group H, two points be­hind Croa­tia.

The 36-year-old Pirlo joined New York City FC last month and has played six matches in the North Amer­i­can league.

Giovinco moved to Toronto FC in Jan­uary and is among the league lead­ers with 17 goals in 24 matches.

AP

Ital­ian soc­cer for­ward Mario Balotelli ar­rives for med­i­cal checks in Mi­lan, Italy, Tues­day, Aug. 25.

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