MILAN (AP) — Giuseppe Rossi always knew he would not be in Italy's World Cup squad according to national coach Cesare Prandelli, who also revealed on Tuesday that the United States-born forward almost wasn't included in the provisional list.
Speaking for the first time since revealing his 23-man squad on Sunday, Prandelli explained he had been clear with Rossi since meeting with the forward in early May, shortly after his comeback from a four-month injury layoff.
"I met Giuseppe Rossi on May 7, before giving the 30," Prandelli said. "I wanted to speak to him, tell him that he had played very little time. I was going with the intention to tell him he wasn't in the 30. Then I understood that it could be something nice and a strong message for everyone.
"I told him that moment that he wasn't in the 23...I repeated it twice. I also told him that it was a very hard decision because he is an extraordinary lad. I told him several times: "Beppe, you're not in the 23." We began to work. He always worked well, with enthusiasm. Everyone knew their role."
Rossi was leading Serie A's leading scorer with 14 goals in 17 matches for Fiorentina when he reinjured his right knee in January, sidelining him for four months.
Before Saturday's friendly international against Ireland, the 27-year-old had played just 140 minutes at club level since returning to action.
"Before the last match I told him you're good from a physical point of view, but that I wanted to see more on the pitch, the actions that a footballer unconsciously does," Prandelli said. "I wanted to see a forward that plays as a forward. I even took off (Ciro) Immobile to see if that would help, but I didn't see that which I should have seen.
"It would have been easy to pick him, everyone would have been happy. But it would have been too much of a risk. I told him he hadn't completed his recovery. Obviously I'm surprised at certain reactions."
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