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Pirlo 'never feared' losing Italy place

Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo insists he never worried about his chances of playing for the Azzurri again when he was struggling with form and fitness throughout the 2010-11 season.

Pirlo, 32, returned to the national team in the friendly victory over Spain after a long absence due to injury and is confident of getting back to his best for club and country after moving to Juventus from AC Milan over the summer.

"I never feared losing my place in the national team,'' Pirlo said. "Last year I worked very hard to recover from injury. To represent my country is always the maximum for any player.

"We enjoy making the fans happy with our performances. With the national team we try to follow Barcelona's model but I would say our football is similar to that of Carlo Ancelotti's Milan.''

Italy take on the Faroe Islands this Friday in their latest Euro 2012 qualifier, but Pirlo said Cesare Prandelli's side will not be understimating the minnows and are fully focused on winning to cement their place at the top of Group C.

"Against a top team like Spain we gave a great performance,'' Pirlo said. "But that was a friendly. Now we have two important qualifiers that we need to win in order to achieve our aim which is to qualify for next year's tournament as soon as possible.

"We still have to take further steps to get better as a team. There is still a long way to go but we have to get there.''

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