Conte: Balotelli injury a groin inflammation, not hamstring strain

Italy coach Antonio Conte denied Mario Balotelli suffered a hamstring strain, after the Liverpool striker left the team camp on Saturday.

The Euro 2016 qualifier between the Italians and Croatia is in doubt to go ahead due to wild weather in Milan, with Croatia boss Niko Kovac claiming the San Siro surface is "unplayable".

But assured of not being in action on Sunday is mercurial front man Balotelli, who the Italian Football Association revealed had suffered a "hamstring strain" and "mild groin" pain.

But Conte said Balotelli's injury was more related to his groin than hamstring.

"Balotelli did not suffer a muscle strain but an inflammation of the pubic area," Conte said on Saturday.

"Yesterday and today he has not been able to train, it makes no sense to keep people in the national team who are not in training."

Conte said he had respect for their Group H heavyweights, with both nations coming into the clash with perfect qualifying records through three matches.

"We never feel fear but rather respect for Croatia, the same we felt for Malta and Azerbaijan," the former Juventus boss said. 

"We are aware that Croatia are technically very strong and that they are very good in one-on-one situations and that they attack with many players. 

"When in possession, we must be good enough to replicate on the pitch the things we have tried in training this week. 

"When we are not in possession, we must be good enough not to get caught up in their passing."

While Kovac slammed the San Siro pitch and claimed they would be closer to playing water polo than football on Sunday, Conte simply said he was hopeful of an international-quality surface.

"We all hope that the weather will improve because we are a team that likes to play football on the floor and Croatia likewise," Conte said.

"In order to play some good football we hope that the pitch is in the best condition both for us and for Croatia."