Italy wheel out big names for Euro dates
Any hopes that Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington had of taking three points off a weakened Italy team in next week’s final Euro 2012 qualifier have been dashed.
Italian coach Cesare Prandelli last night named his strongest possible squad for qualifiers against Serbia and Northern Ireland, even though his team has already secured their passage to next summer’s finals.
Big names such as Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli are all selected.
Prandelli’s preference to stick with his best players rather than experimenting is both good and bad news for Worthington.
To have any chance of finishing second in the group, Northern Ireland need Serbia to lose both of their final games, but must also beat Estonia at Windsor Park on Friday night as well as Italy next Tuesday in Pescara.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland goalkeeper Lee Camp’s club Nottingham Forest last night parted company with manager Steve McClaren.
The former England boss had been in charge for just 112 days and managed to win just twice in 10 Championship games.
ITALY SQUAD: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St Germain); Davide Astori (Cagliari), Federico Balzaretti (Palermo), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Mattia Cassani (Fiorentina), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St Petersburg), Christian Maggio (Napoli); Alberto Aquilani (AC Milan), Luca Cigarini (Atalanta), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Antonio Nocerino (AC Milan), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus); Mario Balotelli (Manchester City), Antonio Cassano (AC Milan), Sebastian Giovinco (Parma), Giampaolo Pazzini (Inter), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal).