Rossi and Cassano included for Italy fitness tests

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 11, 2014 at 6:05 pm •  Published: April 11, 2014
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ROME (AP) — Giuseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano were called up for World Cup fitness tests Friday by Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, while in-form forward Mattia Destro was left out while serving a three-match ban in Serie A.

Prandelli will have athletic tests and medical exams performed on 42 players Monday and Tuesday at the national team's Coverciano training complex in Florence.

The tests will be designed to simulate hot and humid match conditions in Brazil, and Prandelli has said the data collected will weigh heavily on selections for his final 23-man list for the June 12-July 13 tournament.

Rossi was Serie A's top scorer until he re-injured his problematic right knee in January and has only recently begun training again.

Cassano hasn't played for Italy since helping the squad to a runner-up finish at the 2012 European Championship but he's had a stellar season at Parma with 11 goals.

Destro scored a hat trick for Roma last weekend and has compiled 13 goals in 18 matches since starting his injury-delayed season in December. But his three-goal performance was marred when he punched Cagliari defender Davide Astori, resulting in the ban.

Prandelli has a strict code of ethics that limits call-ups for players who get into trouble with their clubs.

Veteran forwards Francesco Totti, Luca Toni and Antonio Di Natale were also left out, despite solid seasons.

Mario Balotelli leads the list of forwards who were included, with Torino's Ciro Immobile also in. The 24-year-old Immobile is tied with Carlos Tevez for the Serie A scoring lead with 18 goals each.

Two players received their first call-ups: Domenico Berardi, a 19-year-old forward with Sassuolo who scored four goals against AC Milan earlier this season; and Brazilian-born Hellas Verona midfielder Romulo.

Also included was 17-year-old goalkeeper Simone Scuffet, who has burst onto the scene with Udinese this season and has already been hailed as the next Gianluigi Buffon.

Players based outside Italy were not called up — although only for logistical reasons. Paris Saint-Germain midfielders Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti and goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu will still be considered for the World Cup.