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Balotelli ruled out of Confederations Cup

Mario Balotelli will play no further part in Italy's Confederations Cup campaign after being sent home to recover from a thigh injury.

It was revealed on Monday that Balotelli would miss the Azzurri's semi-final against Spain, although doctors initially hoped the AC Milan striker would return in time for either the final or third-place playoff.

Enrico Castellacci, the head of Italy's medical staff, confirmed Balotelli has left Brazil as a precaution to avoid further injury.

"I met with Balotelli this morning," Castellaci told www.figc.it. "The medical condition is not satisfactory, he cannot recover even for the finals on Sunday.

"To avoid unnecessary risks we decided, in agreement with (coach Cesare) Prandelli and after talking to the medical staff of AC Milan, we decided to send the player back to Milan."

Castellacci is confident midfielder Andrea Pirlo will return to face Spain after missing the Brazil game with a leg injury.

"He is continuing to work hard and we are cautiously optimistic," he added. "But we have to evaluate his case day by day and if he does play against Spain it will be decided only at the last moment."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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