Italy coach Mancini explains Balotelli omission for World Cup playoffs

Italy coach Roberto Mancini explained leaving out Adana Demirspor striker Mario Balotell out of his World Cup playoffs squad.

Balotelli was part of the training camp at Coverciano at the end of January, but missed the final cut this week.

“I brought those who could be more useful,” Mancini said at his first press conference from Coverciano.

“We only have a few training sessions. There isn’t much time to try new things. The basis is made by players who were part of the team at Euro 2020, except Bernardeschi, who is not fully fit. I couldn’t call 40 players. We have called strikers with different characteristics for these games.”

Cagliari striker Joao Pedro, however, was included.

“There are no big reasons. Even in terms of numbers, there wasn’t much more I could do,” he insisted.

“It’s always sad to leave a player at home, whether he is Balotelli, Calabria or Bernardeschi, but that’s my choice. Joao Pedro can play in different roles in the attack.”

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