No Pirlo, as Conte names provisional pre-Euro 2016 squad

Milan (AFP) – Italy veteran Andrea Pirlo was among the absentees as coach Antonio Conte named a provisional 28-man squad on Monday for a pre-Euro 2016 training camp with several stars absent with Cup finals to play. 

Conte, who earlier Monday was cleared of sporting fraud charges relating to a match-fixing affair while he was coach of Serie B team Siena in 2011, can now fully focus on the Azzurri although questions remain over his final 23-man squad.

Italy players yet to play Cup finals — namely those with Juventus, AC Milan, Paris Saint Germain and Manchester United — were left out of the reckoning altogether, meaning Conte’s final squad on May 31 could look very different.

Defender Leonardo Bonucci was the only Juventus player included for the first training camp beginning Wednesday at Coverciano near Florence because he is suspended for the Italian Cup final against AC Milan on May 21.

With midfielders Claudio Marchisio (Juventus) and Marco Verratti (PSG) ruled out through serious injury, there is a place for Roma’s tough-tackling defensive midfielder Daniele de Rossi.

World Cup winner Pirlo, 36, who had came out of retirement following Italy’s first round exit from the 2014 World Cup, was a notable, although not a surprise, absentee.

Since his move from Juventus to New York City, Pirlo has fallen out of favour amid reports he is lacking the required fitness. It now looks increasingly unlikely he will play at Euro 2016.

Conte has rewarded Domenico Berardi for a string of fine goalscoring performances with Serie A minnows Sassuolo, who pipped AC Milan to sixth place and a possible spot in next season’s Europa League.

Toronto striker Sebastian Giovinco, who played under Conte at Juventus, has been recalled while Sunderland’s Fabio Borini, who featured at Euro 2012 without playing a game, has been given the nod by Conte for the first time.

Conte called up a total of seven players who had never graced the Italy squad in Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello, Genoa defender Armando Izzo, Empoli defender Lorenzo Tonelli, midfielders Marco Benassi (Torino), Danilo Cataldi (Lazio), Davide Zappacosta (Torino) and Genoa striker Leonardo Pavoletti.

Three other players, other than Borini, return to the fray in goalkeepers Antonio Mirante (Bologna), Federico Marchetti (Lazio) and West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna. 

Among the notable absentees due to Cup duty are goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), defenders Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini (both Juventus), Luca Antonelli (Milan), midfielders Thiago Motta (PSG) and Riccardo Montolivo (Milan), goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu (PSG) and Manchester United fullback Matteo Darmian.

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