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Prandelli welcomes back Criscito

Cesare Prandelli says it is the right time for Domenico Criscito to return to the Italy squad after the fullback was cleared of match-fixing.

Criscito was sensationally axed from Italy’s Euro 2012 squad after corruption police raided his room at the national team’s training camp and placed him under formal investigation as part of the Scommessopoli scandal.

The Zenit St Petersburg player has since been cleared of any wrong-doing from his time with Genoa, and national coach Prandelli has subsequently brought him back into the fold for this month’s 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Armenia and Denmark.

“It was both a technical and personal decision, which wasn’t difficult at all,” Prandelli said.

“When the Public Prosecutor’s office of Genoa dismissed the notice of investigation, it was the right time to cap Criscito again.

“We know how it all happened and it is useless to keep going over all the difficulties that we have, so it’s a pleasure for me to have him here.

“When he gets back on the pitch with his team-mates, we can forget what happened and the suffering there’s been.”

Italy travel to Armenia for their third World Cup qualifier of Group B on Tuesday, before hosting Denmark on October 16.

Prandelli also brought in Stephan El Shaarawy, Andrea Ranocchia and Marco Verratti, although there was no place for veteran forward Antonio Cassano.

“Right now, I’ve opted to continue on the path of renewal and count on young guys, but the national team isn’t closed for Cassano,” he said.

“It’s the same approach we had for (Antonio) Di Natale – he has kept on working hard and he has been there in crucial moments.”

Finally, Manchester City Mario Balotelli received the nod despite missing Italy’s most recent matches, a 2-2 draw in Bulgaria and a 2-0 win at home to Malta, after opting to undergo an eye operation last month.

“To tell you the truth, I’ve felt upset when Balotelli decided to have an operation in the two weeks when the national team had to play official matches,” he said.

“In any case I’ve capped him and am counting on his pride and his talent. We will see if he has the willingness to become a champion.”

Mon 8 October, 2012
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