Chiellini buoyed by Balotelli return

The striker has been recalled after being left out Antonio Conte’s last squad in October an one of his team-mates has been quick to welcome him back into the fold

Mario Balotelli’s return to the Italy squad will not cause any problems, insists Giorgio Chiellini.

The Liverpool forward was handed a call-up by Antonio Conte for Saturday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Croatia and the friendly versus Albania next Tuesday.

It is the first time the 24-year-old has been on international duty since the World Cup, when Cesare Prandelli’s side were dumped out at the group stage, with Balotelli’s displays coming in for particular criticism.

His form in the Premier League has drawn further negative coverage, but Chiellini foresees no issues surrounding the former Inter and AC Milan man’s return to the fold.

“There was nothing to fix [with Balotelli],” the Juventus defender said. “We decided to make a point only about the World Cup. We know it went badly.

“It’s a new campaign, and you have to forget about the past, while remembering the desire to make up for what happened in this period.

“There was no confrontation, there was no need for one. The coach makes the decisions, we’re a united group, who are focused on winning.”

Chiellini questioned the value of placing Balotelli under the continued glare of the media spotlight, adding: “I understand that for you [the media] it’s important to know how many times [Balotelli] sneezed or went to the bathroom, but for us we only think about the team and about winning.

“And that counts for everyone, no matter who they are.”

Conte’s side sit second in Group H with three wins from as many games, trailling leaders and this weekend’s opponents Croatia on goal difference.

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