Prandelli thinks I'm on a par with Balotelli – Gilardino

The 31-year-old believes he can add plenty to the Azzurri cause ahead of the World Cup after scoring the winner against Bulgaria in Palermo on Friday

Alberto Gilardino is confident he will remain part of Cesare Prandelli’s Italy plans between now and next summer’s World Cup finals.

The 31-year-old struck the only goal of the game as the Azzurri beat Bulgaria in Palermo on Friday, leaving them on the brink of securing a place in Brazil.

And, Gilardino believes he has plenty to offer his country, claiming that Prandelli values him as highly as Mario Balotelli and Pablo Osvaldo, both of whom were suspended for Friday’s clash.

“We all feel a bit more Brazilian,” said the Genoa striker after the win.

“This is a goal I dedicate to myself. I never gave up, which has been my strength, and I think that I can improve and do so much for the national team, even at 31. Prandelli knows me well and considers me on a par with Mario and Osvaldo.”

Gilardino was heavily linked with a move to Juventus at the end of the summer transfer window, and Leonardo Bonucci admits the striker has proved he would have been a welcome addition in Turin.

“It would have been nice for Juve to have him,” added the defender.

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