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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 4, 2008

Italy overlook Del Piero for Portugal friendly

MILAN, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero could still play in Euro 2008 despite being omitted from Italy's squad for Wednesday's friendly against Portugal in Zurich, coach Roberto Donadoni said on Monday. 'With four months to go to the European championships, no one should feel excluded,' Donadoni told reporters. 'Del Piero is intelligent, he knows what the situation is very well.' The 33-year-old striker, a member of the 2006 World Cup-winning squad, has not played for Italy since his poor performance in a goalless Euro 2008 qualifier against France in September, when Donadoni used him out of position on the wing. The Italian media had expected him to be recalled after a fine spell in which he has scored seven goals in nine games. But Donadoni said that form was not the only factor he considered when making his selections. 'Seven goals do not make a player indispensable,' he said. Donadoni has also left out Antonio Cassano, who has shown some of the touches that made him one of Italian soccer's brightest prospects since joining Sampdoria on loan from Real Madrid in the close season. He said the forward had to control his explosive temperament and be more consistent if he was to win his first cap since 2006. Donadoni has drafted in Fiorentina defender Alessandro Gamberini to provide cover for Inter Milan's Marco Materazzi, who is in doubt after missing training on Monday with a back problem. Gamberini takes the place of midfielder Franco Semioli, his Fiorentina team mate, who pulled out of the 20-man squad with a foot injury.

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