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Darmian returns for Azzurri against Spain, Macedonia

Milan (AFP) – Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian was among four returnees named in the Italy squad Saturday for 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Macedonia.

Italy, who impressed on their way to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, began their qualifying campaign with a 3-1 win away to Israel in what was new coach Gian Piero Ventura’s maiden game in charge.

Darmian, 26, has not played for Italy since missing their final penalty in a dramatic 6-5 shoot-out defeat to Germany in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

He joins Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin, Zenit St. Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito and Villarreal striker Nicola Sansone in returning for the next two games.

Italy host Spain for the first time since ending La Roja’s hopes of a third consecutive European Championship title with a 2-0 defeat at the Stade de France in the last 16 stage last June.

Ventura’s men will then spend two days training at the Vinovo training complex of Juventus, before flying to Skopje a day before facing Macedonia on October 9.

Italy squad for 2018 World Cup qualifiers:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa) 

Defenders: Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham/ENG), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan)

Midfielders: Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan), Antonio Candreva (Inter Milan), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St Petersburg/RUS), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain/FRA)

Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Eder Citadin Martins (Inter Milan), Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng), Nicola Sansone (Villarreal)

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