In Brief: Balotelli's eye op 'hurts' coach; Celtic warriors in Cardiff battle; Trapattoni calls up Villa's Clark


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The Independent Football

The Italy coach, Cesare Prandelli, says he toyed with the idea of dropping Mario Balotelli from his squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Armenia and Denmark after being left "hurt" by the Manchester City striker's decision to schedule laser eye surgery during the last international break.

Balotelli was among six players recalled by Prandelli after missing the games against Malta and Bulgaria last month as he recovered from the procedure. "When he decided to undergo surgery just two weeks before his commitments to the national team, there was hurt," said Prandelli.

Celtic warriors in Cardiff battle

The Wales midfielder Joe Ledley expects more than one type of Celtic battle when Scotland visit Cardiff in Friday's World Cup qualifier.

Ledley and Adam Matthews face Celtic team-mates Scott Brown and James Forrest as both countries look for their first win in Group A.

"There will be a lot of battles in the game," said Ledley. "James up against Adam and me up against Scott Brown so we will see who comes out on top.

"We play against each other in training every day and we know each other's strengths and weaknesses."

Brown is back in Scotland manager Craig Levein's plans after a hip injury while Steven Fletcher and Darren Fletcher have also returned to the squad.

Trapattoni calls up Villa's Clark

Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark was yesterday called into the Republic of Ireland squad with manager Giovanni Trapattoni facing injury problems.

Defender Sean St Ledger and midfielder Glenn Whelan suffered hamstring problems while playing for Leicester and Stoke respectively over the weekend. The pair are major doubts for the World Cup qualifiers against Germany and Faroe Islands, while James McClean is out with a hip injury.