Stephan El Shaarawy believes he can make Italy’s World Cup squad after making his first appearance in four months at the weekend.
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The 21-year-old has spent most of the season sidelined by a foot injury, but after being invited to a fitness test by Italy coach Cesare Prandelli last Monday, he came through half an hour with AC Milan's youth team on Saturday and immediately set his sights on a return to action with the senior team and his country.
"I believe I can make it to the World Cup -- I want to wear an Italy shirt. I'd like to thank Prandelli for having considered me for the [fitness] tests. I'm delighted with my return to the national team and now I want to try to be called up [for the World Cup]."
El Shaarawy, who underwent surgery on a fractured metatarsal during the winter break, was given a 30-minute run out by Milan's youth-team coach Filippo Inzaghi in a 2-1 win over Verona, having joined his teammates for the first time in training towards the end of last week.
He has now earmarked the Milan derby in a fortnight's time as a potential date for his first appearance under Clarence Seedorf after putting months of injury agony behind him.
"My first training session with the team was such an emotion," he said. "So many people have helped me through these past few months, together with my family and my two best friends. They have not been easy months, but I'm happy to be back playing now."