Italy coach Cesare Prandelli again expresses faith in Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli


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The Independent Online

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has expressed his faith in controversial Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli.

The veteran tactician has dropped the 21-year-old on several occasions because of the player's indiscipline in the Barclays Premier League.

However, Prandelli now sees the City striker focused and deterrmined to help the Azzurri at the European Championship.

"When I heard Balotelli say that he will not leave Italy down to 10 men, I believed him 100%," Prandelli said to Gazzetta dello Sport. "There is a great atmosphere in the team and there is a big awareness that something significant can be achieved.

"The players know this is an exceptional opportunity for them, they are taking responsibility and they will not fail."

Balotelli is among six strikers included by Prandelli in his preliminary squad.

Joining Balotelli in the party are Milan's Antonio Cassano, Roma's Fabio Borini, Mattia Destro of Siena, Udinese captain Antonio Di Natale and Parma's Sebastian Giovinco.

Prandelli revealed he may consider taking all of his selected forwards to the European Championship.

"All of the six strikers have truly touched me," he said. "They have quality and are modern strikers.

"They all deserve to be here.

"If we keep all six, then we will sacrifice a defender."