Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Azzurri: Donadoni leaves door open

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni has explained his decision to leave Antonio Cassano out of the squad for Wednesday's friendly against Portugal in Zurich and has refused to close the door on Alessandro Del Piero's international career.

Despite his latest form for Sampdoria and close relationship with Donadoni, Cassano has lost out to Genoa’s Marco Borriello.

"I thought I’d try out some new players because this is one of the last opportunities," Donadoni said. "Vincenzo Iaquinta? Del Piero? Cassano? Alberto Gilardino? I’d rather you asked me about Marco Borriello and Marco Cassetti.

"The players that are left out shouldn’t be worrying, as they only need to be concerned if they are putting in poor performances – we have four months left.

"Cassano is a player who I know best. He needs to be stimulated and call-ups don’t do that. He needs to grow more, so I am waiting expectantly."

Del Piero’s chances of making Euro 2008 his Azzurri swansong are up in the air after the Juventus veteran was again left out of the squad.

"Scoring seven goals is not enough to make a player indispensable," Donadoni maintained.

"Del Piero knows very well what the situation is. Four months ahead of the European Championships nobody should feel excluded.

"If I made my list definite for Austria and Switzerland then the players that were on it would go on holiday, instead I will follow all the games and collect information."

Cassano and Del Piero were overlooked as Donadoni instead selected 25-year-old Borriello, Serie A's leading Italian scorer this season with 12 goals in 18 games.

And Borriello is determined to impress, "To be here is a dream come true. It's one of the happiest days of my life. I have worked very hard to be here. I have scored 12 goals and I hope I can continue to score," he said.

Despite his great run of form, Borriello is likely to have to make do with a place on the bench with Donadoni set to start with Bayern Munich's Luca Toni and Udinese duo Antonio Di Natale and Fabio Quagliarella.

Donadoni concluded by responding to questioning over his decision to select Juve benchwarmer Raffale Palladino.

"Find me another right-winger," he asked. "Franco Semioli was called up for that reason. We don’t have many alternatives."

The Azzurri are also missing first-choice goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon due to a back problem with Marco Amelia set to deputise. Inter defender Marco Materazzi and Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso are both injured.

Source: C4 Football Italia

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