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Mario Balotelli returns to Italy squad after 3 years

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Mario Balotelli has returned to the Italy squad, more than three years after his last game in an Azzurri shirt.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini named the striker to a 35-man roster unveiled Monday for a three-day training session this week ahead of the World Cup playoffs in March.

In September 2018, Balotelli, 31, made his last of 36 international appearances in a 1-1 tie against Poland in the Nations League.

Balotelli now plays for Adana Demirspor in Turkey, where he has eight goals in 19 league appearances.

Mancini has worked with Balotelli at Inter Milan and Manchester City, and Italy has lacked a regular goalscorer in recent years, with Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti struggling to translate their club form to the international stage.

The training camp will take place from Wednesday to Friday. Goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi, defenders Luiz Felipe and Giorgio Scalvini, midfielders Nicol Fagioli, Davide Frattesi, and Samuele Ricci, and striker Joo Pedro all received their first international call-ups.

On March 24, European champion Italy will face North Macedonia in the World Cup qualifying playoffs. The winner goes to the next round, which will be held in Portugal or Turkey five days later.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Marco Carnesecchi (Cremonese), Alessio Cragno (Cagliari), Alex Meret (Naples), Salvatore Sirigu (Genoa).

Defenders: Alessandro Bastoni (Inter Milan), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Davide Calabria (AC Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Naples), Alessandro Florenzi (AC Milan), Luiz Felipe (Lazio), Gianluca Mancini (Rome), Luca Pellegrini (Juventus), Giorgio Scalvini (Atalanta), Rafael Tolói (Atalanta).

Midfielders: Nicolò Barella (Inter Milan), Bryan Cristante (Rome), Nicolò Fagioli (Cremonese), Davide Frattesi (Sassuolo), Manuel Locatelli (Juventus), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Samuele Ricci (Empoli), Stefano Sensi (Inter Milan ), Sandro Tonali (AC Milan).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Adana Demirspor), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Naples), João Pedro (Cagliari), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo), Gianluca Scamacca (Sassuolo) , Mattia Zaccagni (Lazio), Nicolò Zaniolo (Rome).

Image Credit: Getty

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