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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

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Back injury rules out Balotelli

Mario Balotelli has been ruled out of Italy's forthcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers after sustaining a back injury.

Balotelli, 21, will miss Friday's game in Serbia and Tuesday's clash against Northern Ireland with the problem that he picked up on Tuesday, and will now return to his club Manchester City for treatment.

Italy's team doctor Enrico Castellacci said: "Balotelli had problems during practice yesterday. We have decided, having spoken to Manchester City, to send him home."

The Italians, who have secured their place at Euro 2012, are already without Inter Milan forward Giampaolo Pazzini (foot) and are sweating on the fitness of Villarreal frontman Giuseppe Rossi (knee).

AC Milan's Antonio Cassano and Parma's Sebastian Giovinco are currently Italy's only fit strikers for the game in Belgrade, and coach Cesare Prandelli has called up Roma striker Daniele Osvaldo as a replacement.

"This is a dream come true,'' Argentina-born Osvaldo told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I want to thank all the Roma fans.''

The 25-year-old joined Roma on a permanent transfer from Espanyol last month and has made an impressive start to life in the Eternal City, scoring three goals in five league appearances.

"Osvaldo is of national team calibre,'' Italy and Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi said. "He is doing well at Roma and has a lot of confidence in his abilities. It could be the start of an important symbol for Roma.''

With Zenit St Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito sidelined with a back injury, Prandelli has called Torino defender Angelo Ogbonna up as his replacement.

Ogbonna, who is the only Serie B player in Prandelli's 23-man squad, returns to the national team having earned his first senior call up in June.

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