NEWS
Friday January 25 2013
Prandelli will pick U-21 stars

Italy boss Cesare Prandelli says Stephan El Shaarawy and Marco Verratti will be part of his Confederations Cup squad.

There were doubts whether the two would appear in the tournament next summer given that the Italian Under-21 side will be fighting for the European title at the end of this season too.

“I still need to speak with Under-21 boss Devis Mangia,” Prandelli told the Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview.

“The Euro Under-21 Finals are important, but the national side is the priority. We’ll divide the players and I think I’ll have El Shaarawy and Verratti with me.

“A lot of people criticised El Shaarawy after his debut in the England friendly, but I saw a real player.

“I told him to go and give his best for Milan and we would see each other again. I didn’t need him to score 14 goals.

“Verratti? I wanted to take Francesco Lodi to the European Championship. I spoke to Catania boss Vincenzo Montella, but then I decided to make a decision based on the future by selecting Verratti in the 30-man list. An Under-21 international in the full squad, that’s why I thought it was scandalous that he was allowed to leave Italy.”

Prandelli has opened the doors of his side to promising youngsters and he has his eyes on 19-year-old Sampdoria ace Mauro Icardi.

“He wants to play for Argentina? He’s told us something different,” Prandelli said of the boy who has a decision to make.

“We spoke, there was an agreement, then something happened. But we’re still hopeful.”

The former Fiorentina Coach was also inevitably asked for his thoughts on Daniele De Rossi and Mario Balotelli given their problems at Roma and Manchester City respectively.

“There is no need to phone De Rossi. It’s right that he faces this situation with his Coach as an adult. Daniele is hard and he’ll come out of this even stronger.

“I’ve spoken with Balotelli, I gave him some personal advice that will remain between ourselves.

“The hope remains the same, that Mario finally invests in himself. That he says, OK, now is the time to become the best in the world. That he only allows the footballer to speak.

“I still believe and there is no reason why a Coach should give up on him. There is no other Coach apart from Mancini who merits Mario’s thanks. He wanted him, defended him. Mario needs to do what Mancini asks of him.

“We’ve had no problems with Balotelli. He’s always the last to training, but never late. I have an advantage over Mancini, I work with him for brief periods, but he was impeccable at Euro 2012.”

Prandelli was also asked about the international prospects of Lazio ‘keeper Federico Marchetti and Ezequiel Schelotto.

“Marchetti is doing well and we are following him. He could be part of the squad next time. But, with me, Gigi Buffon will be the first choice until the world ends.

“The use of Schelotto as a right-back? He’s the first guy that isn’t convinced. Instead, he should be because that is where he can impose himself and be useful for us.

“He has the legs of a winger, but not irresistible dribbling skills. Atalanta boss Stefano Colantuono has spoken to him about that too.”

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