Mario Balotelli earns his first international call-up in over THREE YEARS as Roberto Mancini turns to the former Manchester City forward to get Italy’s World Cup hopes back on track
- Mario Balotelli has not played for Italy since he earned his 36th cap in 2018
- He has now been named in Roberto Mancini’s 35-man training squad
- Italy have a World Cup play-off game against North Macedonia in March
- Mancini may rely on Balotelli to steer his side to this year’s World Cup in Qatar
Mario Balotelli has been called up to the Italian national team for the first time since 2018 as Roberto Mancini’s side begin their preparations for their crucial World Cup play-off game against North Macedonia in March.
The European champions will not be playing an official match this week, but Mancini has decided to name a 35-man training squad which will meet up on Wednesday, and Balotelli has made the cut, as confirmed by Italy‘s official Twitter account.
The 31-year-old is currently playing his club football in Turkey for Adana Demirspor, and he has netted nine times in 21 appearances across all competitions this season.
Mario Balotelli has done well in Turkey and has been rewarded with an international recall
This is his first international call-up since he made Roberto Mancini’s squad back in 2018
These numbers are good enough for Mancini, who has decided to bring Balotelli back in from the international wilderness.
He will now have the opportunity to cement his place in Mancini’s team moving forward.
Balotelli is joined in the squad by fellow strikers Ciro Immobile, Giacomo Raspadori, Gianluca Scamacca and Joao Pedro, but the No. 9 position has become an issue for Italy in recent times.
They looked toothless in attack in their final World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland back in November, with the game ending 0-0, which allowed Switzerland to leapfrog them into top spot in the group.
Mancini’s side have had issues in attack since last summer’s European Championships victory
Mancini has now turned to Balotelli, who he previously worked with at Manchester City
This means that they still have work to do to make this year’s tournament in Qatar, and they could face Portugal in the play-off final if they get past North Macedonia.
Balotelli will be hoping to be involved in those matches by proving his worth to Mancini in the upcoming training camp.
The pair know each other well from their time together at Manchester City, and it seems that Mancini still has a soft spot for the enigmatic forward.