After their team settled for a 1-1 draw against England in their friendly match, Italian national team coach Antonio Conte says that he is willing to welcome back Mario Balotelli to the fold, provided that the striker give a great performance with his club.

“The doors of the Nazionale are open to everyone who shows during their performances that they know what the Italy jersey represents and what it requires,” the Italian coach stressed during the post match presscon.

Balotelli, along with Sebastian Giovinco and Daniel Osvaldo, were not included in the starting line-up that Conte fielded for Tuesday’s match. The three were previously fielded in several of the Italian team’s matches. How3ever, Conte was quick to reiterate that this circumstance does not mean that they won’t get fielded again in the future.

However, Conte also reiterated that, in order for the players to be put up for the starting eleven again, they have to show good performances with their host clubs. “I’m keeping an eye on everything the leagues offer,” he told reporters. “I went to see Southampton-Liverpool and only [Graziano] Pelle played, as Balotelli and Fabio Borini were on the bench.”

While Balotelli has seen action for Liverpool in the last few months, including the team’s 2-1 loss against Manchester United, the striker has yet to become a regular fixture on coach Brendan Rodgers’ plays. On the other hand, Giovinco is currently a party of Toronto FC while Osvaldo is on loan to the Borca Juniors.

The Italian coach used Mirko Valdifiori’s performance in the game as an example of what he wants for his players. “Valdifiori is the perfect example,” Conte related. “I don’t look at their curriculum; I look at who is doing well. Valdifiori deserved this call and deserves compliments for his performance, especially as it was his debut against England.” The friendly was the midfielder’s debut with the national team.

Paul Koroma

I learned all about life with a ball at my feet. Soccer allows me to push the limitation of creativity and express myself without saying a word. Soccer is my addiction. I train. I play, and I repeat every single day.

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