Ventura plans Balotelli talks

He has been in impressive form for Nice this season, and the controversial striker has now caught the eye of the Azzurri boss

Mario Balotelli has been handed an international lifeline after Italy coach Giampiero Ventura revealed he would hold talks with the in-form Nice striker.

The 26-year-old has not added to his 33 caps in the last two years, but has impressed in Ligue 1 this season, netting six goals in as many matches.

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And Ventura has hinted at the possibility of a recall for the former Milan and Manchester City forward.

“Two months ago, he’d gone a year-and-a-half without playing,” said Ventura in quotes reported on FIFA’s website. “You can’t suddenly change history in two months. But he’s been important [for Nice].

“I’ve never heard Balotelli’s technical ability questioned, but you have to consider other aspects with Mario.

“I’ll have a chat with him to understand his desire to be in contention. We’re open to [calling up] anyone.”

Italy face a World Cup qualifier in Liechtenstein on Saturday as they seek to add to their seven points from three Group G games.

Ventura’s side are overwhelming favourites but, having needed a late comeback to see off Macedonia last time out, the coach is taking nothing for granted.

“It’s a qualifier that we’re expected to win, but you still have to win,” he added. “Nobody wins in football without playing.

“Against Spain they lost 8-0, but until [55 minutes] they were only 1-0 down and hadn’t allowed many scoring chances. We must prepare with great care to avoid any problems.”

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