Saints loanee Dani Osvaldo facing stiff competition for place in Italy's World Cup squad (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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Saints loanee Dani Osvaldo facing stiff competition for place in Italy's World Cup squad
9:02am Friday 9th May 2014 in Sport
And coach Cesare Prandelli has told them all – even Mario Balotelli – that their places in the Azzurri's World Cup squad is not guaranteed.
“I will call seven strikers for five places,” Prandelli said.
“But, above all, there is no-one that has a secure spot - not even Balotelli.
“I need to select 23 players who are in great condition. Right now I can possibly think of 22 plus one.”
Those words cast a doubt over Osvaldo’s chances of making the plane to Brazil.
He has only scored five club goals in 2013/14.
He netted three in 13 Premier League outings for Saints and has scored just twice in 16 appearances for Juventus after joining the newly crowned Serie A champions on loan at the end of January.
Both of those goals were against Trabzonspor in the Europa League, and the last of them was back on February 27.
Osvaldo has only made eight league and cup starts for Juve, and the club are unlikely to take up the option of signing him permanently.
Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi is expected to make the 30-man group despite the 27-year-old still needing to prove his fitness, having only returned to play on Saturday following a serious knee injury.
Rossi celebrated making his first league appearance in four months when he came off the bench to score in the Viola’s 4-3 defeat to Sassuolo on Tuesday.
“Rossi deserves all our love," Prandelli said. "I am happy for his goal and I will wait until the last moment.
“However, as I have said before, I want to see him play in four or five games."
Torino forward Ciro Immobile, who is Serie A’s top scorer with 21 goals this term, and Roma’s leading marksman Mattia Destro are also in contention.
Destro will return to play in Sunday's home game against Juventus having missed his team's last four league games through suspension for violent conduct.
“I have never said that if I pick Immobile that will exclude Destro, and vice-versa," Prandelli said. “The difference between the two is more regarding character than technique.
“Immobile is more free mentally, while Destro is a player with a great ability, but potential is not enough.
“I have seen Immobile play and noted his generosity.
“Destro is a little more inscrutable. He has great talent but must do something more."
Prandelli has not ruled out including Parma's veteran striker Antonio Cassano in the roster.
The 31-year-old has yet to play in a World Cup finals, but was part of Prandelli's squad for the 2012 European Championship when Italy reached the final.
Cassano has scored 12 goals and come up with five assists to help Parma remain in contention for European football next season.
“Cassano? This season he has been one of the most consistent in his performances," Prandelli said. “And he can always decide a game."
Prandelli must submit Italy's provisional squad to FIFA by next Tuesday.
Italy are paired in Group D alongside England, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
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