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Oct 7, 2012

Italy recalls Balotelli, Criscito for qualifiers

Mario Balotelli is among six players recalled by Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli for the World Cup 2014 qualifying games against Armenia and Denmark.

Manchester City striker Balotelli returns to the Azzurri squad after missing games against Malta and Bulgaria with an eye injury, with Domenico Criscito, Alberto Gilardino, Andrea Ranocchia, Antonio Candreva and Stephan El Shaarawy also welcomed back into the fold.

Italy first travel to Armenia for the Group B qualifier on October 12, before facing Denmark at the San Siro in Milan on October 16.

Zenit St Petersburg defender Criscito is recalled after being sent home from this summer's European Championships due to a betting investigation. The 25-year-old former Juventus man was never charged.

Bologna forward Gilardino and Inter Milan defender Ranocchia make the 27-man squad for the first time in 2012, while Lazio midfielder Candreva returns for the first time having been dropped from the Azzurri's pre-World Cup training camp in 2010.

Prandelli has opted to take another look at AC Milan's El Shaarawy after the teenage forward hit five goals in four games for the Rossoneri.

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St. Germain), Emiliano Viviano (Fiorentina).

Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Federico Balzaretti (Roma), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Criscito (Zenit Saint Peterburg/RUS), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Angelo Ogbonna (Torino), Ranocchia (Inter)

Midfielders: Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)

Forwards: Balotelli (Manchester City), Mattia Destro (Roma), El Shaarawy (AC Milan), Gilardino (Bologna), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Pablo Osvaldo (Roma)

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