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Balotelli and De Rossi get Italy axe

Cesare Prandelli has excluded Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli and Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi from the Italy squad after they broke his 'code of ethics'.

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Italy are preparing for a Euro 2012 qualifier in Slovenia on Friday and then have a friendly against Ukraine on March 29, but he has left the highly-rated duo out as a result of their behaviour at club level.

Balotelli attracted strong criticism from manager Roberto Mancini after his red card hindered City's attempts to overturn a deficit against Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League, while De Rossi was given a three-match ban for his elbow in Roma's Champions League defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk.

"I accept my exclusion from the Italy squad, because I know there is a code of ethics and the rules are there to be respected," De Rossi said. "I hope this will only be for these two games and I can return to the Azzurri soon.

"Prandelli does not owe me an explanation. There are rules, I broke them and it's right I am left at home. I said it was a blessing, as I could rest during the break, but that was just a joke to take some of the pressure off.

"It's true my tendon hurts and I picked up a knock, but I don't think it's anything serious."

Italy squad to face Slovenia and Ukraine:

Buffon (Juventus), Sirigu (Palermo), Viviano (Bologna); Astori (Cagliari), Balzaretti (Palermo), Bonucci (Juventus), Chiellini (Juventus), Criscito (Genoa), Gastaldello (Sampdoria); Maggio (Napoli), Ranocchia (Inter), Santon (Cesena), Aquilani (Juventus), Marchisio (Juventus), Mauri (Lazio), Montolivo (Fiorentina), Thiago Motta (Inter), Nocerino (Palermo), Parolo (Cesena); Cassano (Milan), Gilardino (Fiorentina), Giovinco (Parma), Matri (Juventus), Pazzini (Inter), Rossi (Villarreal)

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