11 May 2014 | News Comments

No-one guaranteed a place warns Prandelli

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has told Mario Balotelli that his place in the Azzurri's World Cup squad is not guaranteed.

The 23-year-old AC Milan striker, who has scored 14 times in 28 Serie A appearances, has faced criticism after some of his performances this season, and Prandelli has made it clear that nobody's place in his 30-man provisional squad is set in stone.

"I will call seven strikers for five places," Prandelli said in an interview to Corriere dello Sport. "But, above all, there is no-one that has a secure spot - not even Balotelli.

"I need to select 23 players who are in great condition. Right now I can possibly think of 22 plus one."

Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi is expected to make the 30-man group despite the 27-year-old still needing to prove his fitness having only returned to play on Saturday following a serious knee injury.

Rossi celebrated making his first league appearance in four months when he came off the bench to score in the Viola's 4-3 defeat to Sassuolo on Tuesday.

"Rossi deserves all our love," Prandelli said. "I am happy for his goal and I will wait until the last moment.

"However, as I have said before, I want to see him play in four or five games."

Torino forward Ciro Immobile, who is Serie A's top scorer with 21 goals this term, and Roma's leading marksman Mattia Destro are also in contention.

Destro will return to play in Sunday's home game against champions Juventus having missed his team's last four league games through suspension for violent conduct.

"I have never said that if I pick Immobile that will exclude Destro, and vice-versa," Prandelli said. "The difference between the two is more regarding character than technique.

"Immobile is more free mentally, while Destro is a player with a great ability, but potential is not enough.

"I have seen Immobile play and noted his generosity.

"Destro is a little more inscrutable. He has great talent but must do something more."

Prandelli has not ruled out including Parma's veteran striker Antonio Cassano in the roster.

The 31-year-old has yet to play in a World Cup finals, but was part of Prandelli's squad for the 2012 European Championship when Italy reached the final.

Cassano has scored 12 goals and come up with five assists to help Parma remain in contention for European football next season.

"Cassano? This season he has been one of the most consistent in his performances," Prandelli said. "And he can always decide a game."

Prandelli must submit Italy's provisional squad to FIFA by Tuesday.

Italy are paired in Group D alongside England, Uruguay and Costa Rica.