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Prandelli hopeful over Balotelli

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli says the time has come for Mario Balotelli to prove he deserves to be judged for what he does on the field.

• Prandelli hails Balotelli efforts

Balotelli was undoubtedly the difference for Italy in their 3-1 win over Denmark on Tuesday, putting on a superb second-half display that went some way towards combating the perception that he is lazy and unprofessional.

Following the match, the striker responded pointedly to comments from Manchester City's football administrator, Brian Marwood, suggesting he was not a good example. Prandelli is hopeful that Balotelli has learned his lessons.

Speaking to reporters at a Milan hotel, Prandelli said: "He has understood what he has to do for Italy. When I talk about Balotelli, I do not like the suggestion he is a gamble, but the moment has certainly come for him to take his share of responsibility in an Italy shirt.

"Many people are often defined by what you see on the surface and by their public image - I say that, from now on, the Balotelli in an Azzurri jersey has to be the one we saw at San Siro against the Danes.

"I want a Nazionale that is always targeting an improvement, even if I'd like to have more time to try out some young players."

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