Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Donadoni ponders Azzurri possibilities

Roberto Donadoni is keeping his options open as he prepares for Wednesday's friendly against Spain.

On a personal level the Italy coach has suggested he may be prepared to extend his contract beyond Euro 2008, while on the pitch he insists there is still time for the likes of Alessandro Del Piero to break into his squad before the summer.

The 33-year-old Del Piero was a surprising omission for the party to face Spain in Elche, with many believing his rejuvenated presence for Juventus merits an international recall.

He delivered another eye-catching performance in the Bianconeri's 2-1 victory at Inter on Saturday, and although he has been unable to convince Donadoni to give him another chance with the Azzurri this time, he may still get his opportunity.

"Ale believes he can make the squad for the Euros and he is right to think that," said the coach, who will be looking to add the European title in June to the FIFA World Cup predecessor Marcelo Lippi claimed two years ago.

"Before the start of the tournament we will have another friendly against Belgium. And while there tend not to be many late, surprising inclusions just ahead of a big tournament, one or two players could make it – it might happen."

It might yet happen for Del Piero's Juve team-mate Giorgio Chiellini too, one of a host of players knocking at the door as the contest for the 23 places this summer intensifies.

"He is among the in-form players right now," Donadoni observed. "I still consider him, as well as others, as an option for the Euros but I cannot call 26 or 27 players and I already have Fabio Cannavaro, Marco Materazzi, Andrea Barzagli and a versatile defender like Christian Panucci in this squad. We get closer and closer to a definite selection but nobody can feel the shirt is his."

Complacency is a trap Donadoni is keen to avoid himself, underlining that wherever his future lies beyond Euro 2008, he is committed to the Italy cause.

"I had an offer to renew my contract, I considered it and I refused it," he said. "I don't see any problem in that. I will be very motivated at the Euros, even if I haven't signed a contract. I have always tried to earn my bread through hard work, and I think my bread was fully earned and deserved. And I don't rule out staying after the tournament."

Source: UEFA

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