Sunday, 22 March 2009

[Azzurri] Fresh names in Italy squad

Italy coach Marcello Lippi has called up three new players into his 23-man squad for key FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and the Republic of Ireland next week.

Fiorentina's Giampaolo Pazzini was called up in place of injured strikers Luca Toni and Alberto Gilardino while defenders Marco Motta and Salvatore Bocchetti also received their first call ups.

Midfielders Matteo Brighi, of Roma, and Lazio's Pasquale Foggia - with one and two appearances, respectively - rejoined the squad.

Giampaolo Pazzini, Marco Motta & Salvatore Bocchetti^ Left to right: Giampaolo Pazzini, Marco Motta & Salvatore Bocchetti.

Antonio Di Natale, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Fabio Quagliarella and Giuseppe Rossi were the other forwards named.

Toni has an Achilles tendon injury at Bayern Munich, while Gilardino exited Fiorentina's 1-0 win over Siena today with a muscle problem.

Also unavailable to Lippi, due to injuries, were Gennaro Gattuso, Mauro Camoranesi, Simone Perrotta, Nicola Legrottaglie, Daniele Bonera and Alberto Aquilani.

Pazzini has scored eight goals in 10 games since transferring from Fiorentina to Sampdoria in January.

Bocchetti has impressed in the heart of the Genoa defence, while Motta has been a revelation for Roma after a winter switch from Udinese.

Talented but temperamental striker Antonio Cassano was again left out. Cassano is from Bari and the city's fans made an appeal to Lippi in the form of a large banner at a Serie B match on Saturday, but to no avail.

Pazzini plays alongside Cassano at Sampdoria and both scored in a 3-1 win over Torino in Serie A today.

The Azzurri are tied at the top of Group 8 with Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland. The World champions visit Montenegro on Saturday and host the Irish four days later in Bari.

The squad will gather for training and preperation at the FIGC's Technical Center in Coverciano on Monday night, then fly out to Podgorica on Friday for Saturday's opening game at the City Stadium, which kicks off at 1945 UK time (+1hr for Italy/CET).

They will return to their Coverciano base the following day before travelling to Bari two days later for the Wednesday night game at the Stadio San Nicola, which kicks off at 1950.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Marco Amelia (Palermo), Morgan De Sanctis (Galatasaray).
Defenders: Salvatore Bocchetti (Genoa), Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Andrea Dossena (Liverpool), Alessandro Gamberini (Fiorentina), Fabio Grosso (Lyon), Marco Motta (Roma), Gianluca Zambrotta (Milan).
Midfielders: Matteo Brighi (Roma), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Pasquale Foggia (Lazio), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria), Simone Pepe (Udinese), Andrea Pirlo (Milan).
Forwards: Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Vincenzo Iaquinta (Juventus), Giampaolo Pazzini (Sampdoria), Fabio Quagliarella (Udinese), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal).

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