Mario Balotelli is to keep his place in Cesare Prandelli’s Italy squad, despite breaking the national team’s code of conduct.
The 23-year-old was sent off at the end of Milan’s home defeat to Napoli a fortnight ago, earning a three-game ban for insulting the match officials. According to rules Prandelli introduced when he took over as Italy coach in 2010, players who show indiscipline in their domestic matches will not be considered for the national team.
Balotelli’s ban expires at the weekend when Milan travel to face Juventus and Prandelli believes the issue will be over and done with then, meaning there is no reason why Balotelli cannot feature in his squad to face Denmark and Armenia.
"Balotelli’s suspension expires before I name my squad and not calling him up would be a punishment beyond the punishment he has already had," Prandelli told Rai television. "Milan were exemplary by not appealing the decision."
Southampton striker Daniel Pablo Osvaldo fell foul of Italy’s ethical code when he was left out of the squad for the Confederations Cup during the summer because he did not take part in the prize-giving ceremony at the end of the Coppa Italia in June.
That was punishment in itself, but Prandelli has viewed Balotelli’s latest escapade as not worthy of an additional ban, even though he admits to being disappointed by the striker’s actions.
"Of course I am, as is everybody who likes Mario," Prandelli added. "I’ve spoken plenty of times about Balotelli and three times this week he has done something extraordinary technically and we’re all delighted.
"We see something truly important in him, but he’s got to get rid of a lot in a certain aspect of his game."