Italy head coach Antonio Conte has revealed he is using the friendly match against Belgium to test out new formations and players ahead of Euro 2016.
Key midfielders Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo and Marco Verratti are not in the squad for the game in Brussels against the world’s number one side.
Conte is looking forward to seeing how some of the other players in his selection cope as he finalises his plans for the 23-man squad he will take to France next year.
“In the past and throughout the qualifying campaign we have coped well with them being out,” the former Juventus boss said of the absent midfield trio.
“Plus there is Claudio Marchisio who is back. It will be a good game to test out new alternatives.
“These are games we need to get some guaranteed alternatives, players who can be reliable in a tournament where I can only call 20 plus three goalkeepers.
“It is important to evaluate. In the last two games, Verratti and Marco Parolo did very well, as did Roberto Soriano, Riccardo Montolivo and Alessandro Florenzi against Norway.
“These are important tests and we must not make mistakes if we are to find a 23-man group who can handle a European Championship or World Cup. That choice is the most important of all.
“I will not be able to see these players again until March and cannot give them vital input, so we will see what response we get from the game and make evaluations.”
Conte has suggested he will line up with a 4-4-2 formation in Belgium having used a 3-5-2 in Italy’s last match against Norway.
He continued: “We are seeking tactical responses in tough and probing tests in order to figure out how far we can go.
“I want to test out a few situations, including tactical options, ahead of the Euros. The result only matters to a degree, although you know how much me and Marc Wilmots hate to lose.
“Whatever happens in this game, we must not get ahead of ourselves or depressed. I wanted us to face top-level opposition at this time to understand if we are on the right track and see what needs to improve.”
Following the Belgium game, Italy face fellow Euro 2016 qualifiers Romania in a home friendly in Bologna on Tuesday.