Pelle has earned call-up, says Conte

Antonio Conte stated that Graziano Pelle's Italy call-up is a reward for his goalscoring record over the past two seasons.

The 29-year-old striker was named in Italy's squad for the first time ahead of their upcoming Euro 2016 qualifying double header with Azerbaijan and Malta.

Pelle's inclusion comes as little surprise after a fine start to the season with new club Southampton that has seen him score four goals in seven Premier League outings.

That follows a return of 50 Eredivisie goals over the past two campaigns for former club Feyenoord.

Conte is now looking forward to seeing Pelle in action first hand for Italy.

"Graziano represents what I’ve always said," Conte told reporters. "Meritocracy leads to a place in the national team for a player that in two years has scored 50 goals.

"Today he is becoming a star in the Premier League after an adventure in Holland.

"I am curious to see him from close range, in order to understand if he can help us. He deserved this call up."

Italy started their Group H campaign with a 2-0 victory at Norway last month.