Rossi omitted from Italy WC squad
Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi has been left out of Italy's 23-man World Cup squad, with Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne selected instead.
The U.S.-born Rossi, 27, missed four months of the season between January and May after suffering a right-knee injury, but he had been given every chance to prove his fitness by Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli.
Despite scoring two goals in four games for Fiorentina since returning on May 3, and featuring in Italy's 0-0 warm-up draw with Ireland on Saturday, however, Rossi has failed to make the cut.
It is a huge blow for the former Manchester United forward, who had led Serie A with 14 goals in 17 matches with Fiorentina until he re-injured his right knee in January, sidelining him for four months. He returned a month ago but has not played a full 90 minutes since coming back and occasionally appeared hesitant against Ireland.
Rossi was born in New Jersey to Italian parents and was offered a chance to play for the United States at an early age but he has always said it was his dream to play for the Azzurri.
Rossi also failed to make the Italian squad for the 2010 World Cup, though Marcello Lippi -- who omitted him four years ago -- recently said he regretted the decision. Now, Rossi will have to wait until 2018 -- when he'll be 31 -- for a chance to play in the World Cup.
Roma striker Mattia Destro was the other notable omission from Italy's 23 for Brazil, while there was also bad news for Riccardo Montolivo, the AC Milan midfielder ruled out after breaking his tibia against Ireland. Also cut from Prandelli's 30-man preliminary squad were Brazilian-born midfielder Romulo, who has been dealing with a muscle problem; and full-backs Manuel Pasqual and Christian Maggio.
Besides sure starter Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Torino strike partners Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci were also chosen up front.
Cassano made the squad following a resurgent season with Parma. After two years away from the national team, his appearance against Ireland was his first since the 2012 Euro final.
Immobile led Serie A with 22 goals in 33 appearances and Cerci is a reliable winger.
Torino full-back Matteo Darmian, who made his Italy debut against Ireland and can play on either the right or the left, was also included, along with Argentine-born centre-back Gabriel Paletta.
In midfield, the newcomers are Paris Saint-Germain's Marco Verratti and Parma's Marco Parolo. Verratti, in particular, shined against Ireland and is considered an eventual replacement for Andrea Pirlo
Centre-back Andrea Ranocchia was selected as a 24th man to go to Brazil as a possible replacement for Andrea Barzagli, who has been fighting injury all season.
Italy, who face Luxembourg in Perugia on Wednesday in their final warm-up game, open their World Cup campaign against England in Group D on June 14 and then face Costa Rica on June 20 and Uruguay on June 24.
Complete Italy squad:
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain).
Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Gabriel Paletta (Parma).
Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli).