The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Mario Balotelli left out of Antonio Conte's first Italy squad after disappointing World Cup
MILAN - New Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has been left out of Antonio Conte's first Italy squad.
Balotelli, who joined Liverpool from AC Milan for 16 million pounds ($26.5 million) last week, has not been included in the 27-man squad for Thursday's friendly against the Netherlands and Italy's first qualifying match for the 2016 European Championship, against Norway, five days later.
Balotelli is suspended from the qualifier after picking up two yellow cards at the World Cup. Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is also suspended, but has been included.
Conte has selected six forwards, including Balotelli's former Milan teammate Stephan El Shaarawy.
Ciro Immobile was the only striker selected who went to the World Cup in Brazil. Pablo Osvaldo has been selected after impressing in preseason friendlies, while Sassuolo striker Simone Zaza is another surprising inclusion. The 23-year-old Zaza has never played for Italy.
Balotelli, who is Italy's most talented but also most temperamental forward, had a disappointing World Cup as the Azzurri went out in the group stage.
The 24-year-old Balotelli is one of nine World Cup players who were not included — although several of those are absent through injury.
Cesare Prandelli resigned immediately after the team's last game in Brazil and was replaced by Conte this month, shortly after he quit Juventus.
The majority of the group will report to Italy's Coverciano training camp, on the outskirts of Florence, on Sunday night. Paris Saint-Germain players Salvatore Sirigu and Marco Verratti will arrive on Monday morning, while Mattia Destro has been given until Tuesday because of personal reasons.
Conte will take his first training session as Italy coach on Monday morning.
Italy will also play Croatia, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Malta in its Euro 2016 qualifying group.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Daniele Padelli (Torino), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain)
Defenders: Davide Astori (Roma), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Gabriel Paletta (Parma), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan)
Midfielders: Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Parolo (Parma), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Andrea Poli (AC Milan), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)
Forwards: Mattia Destro (Roma), Stephen El Shaarawy (Milan), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Borussia Dortmund), Pablo Osvaldo (Inter), Simone Zaza (Sassuolo)
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