Italy international Thiago Motta says he is excited to be back in the national setup this week after a 14-month hiatus.
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder last appeared in the Azzurri shirt in the Euro 2012 final loss to Spain in Kiev, but is in contention to be selected for their World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria in Palermo on Friday.
A win for the Group B leaders would go some way to securing Italy a spot in Brazil next year as – at the minimum – they would have a five-point buffer in the automatic qualification spot with three matches to go.
And Motta said he has been hungry to rejoin his compatriots on the pitch, after being starved of game time at the Ligue 1 giants.
“I really hoped to be part of the national team because, as I’ve already said many times, I’m always happy to join the national team,” Motta said.
“I get on very well with my team-mates and the manager (Cesare Prandelli). The last year has been difficult for me because I haven’t played much for Paris Saint-Germain, but I’m very happy to be back.”
But Motta said team came before the individual as Italy look to take a big step towards qualifying for the World Cup finals for the 14th consecutive time.
“Right now we should focus on Friday’s match because we will be playing a very difficult match,” he said.
“It’s extremely important for us to win this match so that we’ll be able to face the next one with more serenity and calm, that’s why our group will be focused on producing a good performance and winning.
“It would be great if we manage to qualify, therefore we should be highly concentrated on the match.”
Conversely, a Bulgaria win would tighten things up in the group, as it would leave the Eastern European nation within one point of leaders Italy.
Both sides are yet to suffer defeat through six matches respectively, with their previous fixture ending 2-2.