Sunday, 4 October 2009

[Azzurri] Gattuso returns for final qualifiers

AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso returned to the Italy squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers with the Republic of Ireland and Cyprus but Sampdoria playmaker Antonio Cassano was again omitted.

Gennaro GattusoThe World champions need just a point in Dublin next Saturday to qualify for next summer's finals in South Africa as Group Eight winners.

Coach Marcello Lippi has therefore resisted major changes following arguably their best performance in months in September's 2-0 victory over Bulgaria.

World Cup winner Gattuso missed the win in Turin with an ankle injury but has been recalled for the Irish trip and for the final group game with Cyprus in Parma on October 14 despite his club's poor recent form.

Cassano, one of the best players in Serie A for the past two seasons having previously been undermined by childish antics, had been backed by fans and pundits for a recall. His Samp strike partner Giampaolo Pazzini has also been overlooked.

Genoa defender Salvatore Bocchetti returned to the squad at the expense of team mate Domenico Criscito, who is out with an injury, while Fiorentina centre back Alessandro Gamberini was also called up for the first time since the FIFA Confederations Cup in June.

Fiorentina winger Marco Marchionni, who received a surprise call up last month, misses out.

Captain Fabio Cannavaro was included despite not being fully fit and being suspended for the game against Giovanni Trapattoni's second-placed Ireland.

Italy go into the showdown at Croke Park stadium four points clear of Ireland, needing only a draw to assure themselves of a place in next year's finals.

If the Azzurri fail to pick up the point they need, a win in their final qualifier against Cyprus at Parma's Stadio Ennio Tardini four days later will be enough.

The 24-man squad will gather for preparation at the FIGC's national Technical Centre in Coverciano on Monday night before travelling to Dublin on Friday.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Federico Marchetti (Cagliari).
Defenders: Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Salvatore Bocchetti (Genoa), Alessandro Gamberini (Fiorentina), Fabio Grosso (Juventus), Nicola Legrottaglie (Juventus), Davide Santon (Inter), Gianluca Zambrotta (Milan).
Midfielders: Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Gaetano D'Agostino (Udinese), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Gennaro Gattuso (Milan), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria), Simone Pepe (Udinese), Andrea Pirlo (Milan).
Forwards: Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina), Vincenzo Iaquinta (Juventus), Fabio Quagliarella (Napoli), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal).

Source: Reuters

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