Cesare Prandelli says Antonio Cassano’s international career is not over after the striker was left out of the previous Italy squad.
The Inter Milan centre-forward has been criticised in recent weeks after he was involved in a training ground row with club coach Andrea Stramaccioni.
The 30-year-old was also left out of his national side’s last outing, when they drew 1-1 with the Netherlands in Amsterdam, but Prandelli has insisted Cassano can still have a part to play for Italy.
“The Azzurri story is not absolutely over for him,” Italy coach Prandelli told Guerin Sportivo.
“But at the moment, I have to develop the team. If Cassano were there, I would never have discovered Stephan El Shaarawy.
“Antonio is doing well at Inter and for him, just as for others, the door will always be open.”
Cassano was initially dropped from the Inter side following the bust-up with Stramaccioni, although he did feature as a substitute in the weekend defeat by Bologna.
While Inter have endured a difficult run of form of late, Prandelli feels Cassano and his team-mates still have a strong chance of reaching the Champions League qualification places come the end of the season, and has backed the under-fire Stramaccioni.
“Inter had begun the season with the aim of the Champions League places, and I think that goal is still in full swing,” he said.
“(Stramaccioni) is very young, he has to find solutions to every game.”
Italy’s next match is a friendly against Brazil on March 21, before a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier away to Malta five days later.