Balotelli out of Italy squad again, in-form Pelle in
Mario Balotelli has been left out of Italy's squad for a second time in a row by head coach Antonio Conte.
The Liverpool striker, who started in all of the Azzurri's World Cup matches as they disappointingly crashed out at the group stage, was not called up by the ex-Juventus boss for his first two matches in charge against Holland (friendly) and Norway (Euro 2016 qualifier) - both of which Italy won by 2-0 scorelines.
With Balotelli struggling to find form in front of goal since returning to England on a £16 million ($32.7m) transfer from AC Milan, Conte has opted to leave the mercurial ex-Inter Milan attacker in the international wilderness once more as Italy plot for maximum points in their next Euro 2016 qualifiers against Azerbaijan on Oct 10 and Malta four days later.
While the 24-year-old misses out, Conte did include one England-based Italian by giving a first call-up to Southampton's in-form striker Graziano Pelle, who has scored four times in six matches since joining from Feyenoord - including a spectacular overhead winner against Queens Park Rangers.
Graziano Pelle pulling off his overhead kick winner against QPR.
In midfield, Fiorentina's Alberto Aquilani - formerly of Liverpool - has been handed a recall after missing out on Conte's first squad and will compete for a place with players like Antonio Candreva, Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Claudio Marchisio.
Conte also had room to give Empoli youngster Daniele Rugani his maiden call-up as one of five defenders in the squad.
ITALY SQUAD LIST
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain)
Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (Juventus), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan), Daniele Rugani (Empoli)
Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia de Sciglio (AC Milan), Alessandro Florenzi (AS Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Macro Parolo (Lazio), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Andrea Poli (AC Milan), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)
Forwards: Mattia Destro (AS Roma), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Borussia Dortmund), Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Inter Milan), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Sassuolo)