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Balotelli’s exclusion from Italy roster ‘down to the coach’, says Giaccherini


Italian striker Mario Balotelli wasn’t included in the 27-man squad ahead of Italy’s very first qualifying match for the 2016 European Championship against Norway on Sep. 9. He also didn’t play during the 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in a friendly match three days ago.

But fellow countryman Emanuele Giaccherini doesn’t see the exclusion as anything major, considering the broad-shouldered forward will be a focal point of the national team roster at another point in time.

“That decision was down to the coach,” Giaccherini said. “Mario is a great player who can be of use to the Nazionale in future, even though he has a few defects.”

A disappointing World Cup campaign saw the former Juventus manager, Antonio Conte, hired as Italy’s manager in place of Cesar Prandelli, and Giaccherini is glad to know that the new boss respects his style.

“Of course the fact Conte thinks so highly of me is a responsibility,” he said. “The game against Holland on Thursday was the one that meant the most to me since I went into the Nazionale. As long as the coach gives me the opportunity to play, I will always be happy and at his disposal.

“I will admit when Conte was announced as the coach of the Italy squad, I thought I’d have a better chance [of being picked].”