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Weekend Premier League predictions

Premier League
By ESPN Staff

Rossi handed call-up but Del Piero snubbed

MILAN, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi received his first Italy call-up on Sunday for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Montenegro but Alessandro Del Piero was left out.

Napoli defender Fabiano Santacroce, team mate Christian Maggio and Udinese forward Simone Pepe were also named in an Italy squad for the first time as coach Marcello Lippi rang the changes.

Former Manchester United player Rossi has won a spot in the squad after impressing Lippi when playing for the under-23 side at August's Beijing Olympics.

Juventus forward Del Piero, 33, was continually overlooked by previous Italy coach Roberto Donadoni but forced his way into the Euro 2008 squad after finishing top scorer in Serie A last season for the first time.

His form has dipped for a stuttering Juve in recent weeks but he was still expected to be called up for the games against Bulgaria next Saturday in Sofia and at home to Montenegro in Lecce on Oct. 15.

The world champions were slightly fortunate to win their opening Group 8 games in Cyprus and at home to Georgia last month.

Injuries this time have not helped their cause with Andrea Pirlo and Marco Materazzi among those ruled out.

Udinese forward Fabio Quagliarella, who scored twice in a 2-0 win over Torino to Sunday to send his side joint top of Serie A, was overlooked with his less high profile team mate Pepe the biggest surprise in the squad.


Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Marco Amelia (Palermo), Morgan De Sanctis (Galatasaray).

Defenders: Daniele Bonera (AC Milan), Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Andrea Dossena (Liverpool), Alessandro Gamberini (Fiorentina), Fabiano Santacroce (Napoli), Gianluca Zambrotta (Milan)

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (AS Roma), Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Gennaro Gattuso (Milan), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Antonio Nocerino (Palermo), Simone Perrotta (Roma)

Forwards: Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina), Simone Pepe (Udinese), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal), Luca Toni (Bayern Munich).


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