Cassano dieting for World Cup spot
Antonio Cassano is still hoping he can convince Cesare Prandelli to take him along to the World Cup this summer after scoring twice in Parma's 4-2 win against AC Milan on Sunday.
The former Roma, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan forward has been a key figure in sixth-placed Parma’s push for European football next season, scoring 11 goals and assisting a further five in 26 appearances.
The 31-year-old's last appearance in an Italy shirt came in the Euro 2012 final defeat to Spain. Since then, he has failed to earn a call-up to one of Prandelli's squads.
But he has not given up hope, and has even taken up a new diet in order to convince Prandelli of his worth.
"I can't do better than this," he is quoted as saying on BBC Sport. "I've lost 10kg to go to Brazil. I'm on a diet and I've stopped eating focaccine, except for once a week.
"I don't know if there's still a chance but I'm doing everything to give Prandelli something to think about."
Prandelli has said the door is still wide open for places in his final squad selection, particularly in attack, where the fitness of Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Balotelli's dip in form have prompted the Italy coach to issue a warning that nobody is guaranteed a place, other than goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
The Juventus and Italy captain could also be consulted by Prandelli to see whether he would welcome Cassano into the dressing room. The forward's previously volatile behaviour could be the coach's only reservation about Cassano, who is otherwise showing he is worthy of a place based on his performances alone.
"If Prandelli considers calling up Antonio, who's playing a splendid season, then he has every right to do so because Antonio is attracting a lot of attention with his performances and it's only right that the coach tries to present his best Italy at the World Cup," Buffon told Rai Sport. "If he deems it right to make this kind of choice, then it has got to be accepted."