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Everton assistant hails 'professional' Stones

Everton
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Balotelli backed over 'drug deal' claim

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has defended Mario Balotelli after the striker's name was brought up by a witness at a Camorra mafia trial.

A witness at the drugs trial claimed former Manchester City striker Balotelli, now at AC Milan, had witnessed drug deals being done in the Scampia area of Naples and had said he wanted to be involved in one "as a joke".

Denying the claim on his verified Twitter account, Balotelli posted: "Ha, now I sell drugs! Shame, do not use my name for an audience." The post has since been deleted.

Speaking at a press conference that had already been called to discuss Friday's friendly against San Marino, Prandelli was asked about what had been said.

He told reporters that "Mario has responded - there's nothing else to say", but added: "It is a topic that does not interest me at all. When he wants to talk to you, he will tell you what he thinks.

"Considering this topic is sensitive, there are serious matters, and here we are talking about a joke. These are serious issues and it is unclear if these are allegations or otherwise. For us, what applies is what Mario has said."

He said Balotelli could face San Marino, explaining: "Mario has trained well, and I think that he may be available."