Balotelli pulls out of Italy squad with groin injury

The Liverpool received his first call-up to the Azzurri from Antonio Conte but will not feature in their next two fixtures due muscular issues

Mario Balotelli has been forced to pull out from the Italy squad due to injuries sustained in training.

The Azzurri take on Croatia in an important Euro 2016 qualifier at San Siro on Sunday, but will now be unable to call upon the services of the Liverpool striker.

A statement released by the Italian Football Association (FIGC) on Saturday morning announced that the 24-year-old had picked up a “hamstring strain” and “mild groin” pain in training on Friday.

Balotelli – who has yet to score in the Premier League for Liverpool – received his first call-up to the national team under new coach Antonio Conte, but will now have to wait to return to the international fray.

Juventus defender Angelo Ogbonna similarly suffered a hamstring injury and will sit out the forthcoming fixtures as a precaution.

Both Italy and Croatia have 100 per cent records in qualifying so far and are joint-leaders of Group H with nine points each.

Conte’s men picked up a slender 1-0 win at Malta last time out, which was preceded by victories at home to Azerbaijan and away to Norway.

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