Francesco Totti and Luca Toni are both set to miss out on the World Cup after Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said he will be picking from a group of 42 players he called up for fitness tests on Monday and Tuesday.
Neither Totti nor Toni were invited along and, barring an unlikely chain of events that would deprive Prandelli of his current first-choice strikers, they will not be considered for the World Cup this summer.
"I have great respect for them and they deserve greater consideration, but they would only be in the frame in case of emergency," Prandelli said at a news conference.
Prandelli has repeatedly emphasised how important his players' physical condition will be if they are to go all the way to the final this summer. Totti, 37, and Toni, 36, are therefore not deemed suitable to cope with what Prandelli expects to be a gruelling tournament.
"The character of the players is at the top, but now we need to be at the top physically too," added the Italy coach. "We will be preparing ourselves to get through the group, but we will be structuring things to get to the final eventually. We won't make the same mistake we did at the Euros when we just took things game by game."
While Totti and Toni may miss out, Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi has every chance of making it, despite not having played since damaging knee ligaments in January, while the inclusion of Parma forward Antonio Cassano makes competition tough.
"I've seen Antonio with a smile on his face and with the desire to make my choice difficult," Prandelli said. "I've not spoken to anybody one-to-one, I have just reminded all of them that, up to the end of the season, they will all have a chance to be part of the 23 who go to Brazil.
"All that matters is they do not break our ethical code, which continues to be in force in this final month. Whoever makes a mistake will stay at home. I'm not going to call up players who are suspended for bad behaviour, and I don't need the league's disciplinary panel to determine these things either."