In-form Balotelli misses out on Italy recall

The striker has been in the goals in Ligue 1 but does not make the cut while Matteo Darmain and Domenico Criscito are recalled and Alessio Romagnoli is included

Mario Balotelli has missed out on a recall to Giampiero Ventura’s Italy squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Macedonia, despite his fantastic start to life at Nice.

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Balotelli – without a cap since 2014 – has scored five goals in four appearances for Ligue 1 side Nice since leaving Liverpool on a free transfer.

However, despite many believing that his sparkling form would earn him a recall, the former Manchester City, Inter and AC Milan forward, who went off at half-time in Nice’s Europa League clash with Krasnodar on Thursday through illness, has not made the cut.

Another high-profile striker to miss out is Simone Zaza, who has failed to settle at West Ham since arriving on loan from Juventus, while there is also no place for Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne.

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There is, however, a recall for Nicola Sansone – who has scored four goals in six La Liga appearances for Villarreal – along with Matteo Darmain and Domenico Criscito.

Ventura has also handed uncapped Milan youngster Alessio Romagnoli, a reported transfer target of former Italy coach and now Chelsea boss Antonio Conte in the close-season, a chance to impress.

After beating Israel 3-1 in Ventura’s first competitive game in charge, Italy host Spain in Turin on Thursday before taking on Macedonia in Skopje three days later.

Italy squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Marria Perin (Genoa).

Defenders: Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham), Alessio Romagnoli (Milan).

Midfielders: Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Antonio Candreva (Inter), Domenico Criscito (Zenit), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Matria De Sciglio (Milan), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Ricardo Montolivo (Milan), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).

Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Eder (Inter), Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng), Nicola Sansone (Villarreal).

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