Antonio Conte set to give Graziano Pelle his first Italian cap.
Italy manager Antonio Conte has left out-of-sorts Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli out of his squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers, report the Mail, but on fire Southampton forward Graziano Pelle has been given a first call up by Azzurri and could be set to earn his maiden cap.
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Balotelli was also left out of the last Italy squad, Conte’s first as manager, indicating that the former Manchester City and AC Milan man has plenty to do if he is to force his way back into the plans of a nation for whom he has been first choice striker for much of the last three years.
The first step for Balotelli will be proving that he can match the Premier League performances of Pelle, who has been in superb form for Southampton since signing from Feyenoord this summer, scoring four goals to date as Ronald Koeman’s side take the Premier League by storm.
With relatively comfortably qualifiers against Malta and Azerbaijan coming up, Conte is likely to feel that he can experiment somewhat, which is likely to lead to Pelle being given an international debut, if not from the start then as a substitute, another moment which will mark the rise of Southampton as a major football club.