Balotelli must 'grow up' as Azzurri fear red card


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The Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli was warned yesterday by the Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi that he must accept the authority of coach Cesare Prandelli, or risk undermining his team against England on Sunday.

"He's a great player, so if he wants to grow up he has to know how to react to this kind of high-pressure game," De Rossi said.

Asked if there was a possibility that Balotelli could be at risk of a yellow card or worse, De Rossi said: "Up to a certain point. We have talked a lot about Balotelli."

Balotelli has refused to speak at all since Italy arrived in Krakow. There is no certainty he will start in Kiev, having been a substitute against the Republic of Ireland.

"With Mario and the tabloid newspapers, you have to ask him," De Rossi said. "I don't know whether he is worried about it or whether it is him who is giving them the material. He's kind of used to this situation. There is a lot of talk and scandals around him because he's very good. I have seen him being very calm at this tournament. We are here to win Euro 2012 which means everyone has to take responsibility.

"He has to play a great game against England. He has all the quality to do that. He simply has to accept the manager's decision. It's the manager who will take the decision about him."

The England midfielder James Milner, Balotelli's Manchester City team-mate, said yesterday: "There are obviously two Marios. There is one who sometimes turns up in training and sometimes it is a bit cold and he is not too interested and there is the other time when he is really on to it and he is a special talent. He is a top player.

"I might give him a bit of banter. It's good to see him score [against Ireland], but the boys at the back have been outstanding. Joleon [Lescott], all season for City and now he is doing it for England as well, he has been unbelievable. He knows [Balotelli] well, he trains with him every day and I'm sure he will keep him quiet.

"We've seen that he [Balotelli] is a different player. He is very strong, shooting he can cause problems, he is tricky, he's strong and he's a clever player as well. He's a danger but he is one of many."

De Rossi said he regarded England as a "very Italian team".

The Roma midfielder, who is seen as Italy's equivalent to Steven Gerrard, added: "Steven Gerrard is my idol. He has been at the pinnacle for 10 years. You see Gerrard defending and attacking. I would like to be able to play more like that."