Italy to hand out four debuts

MILAN - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has continued his policy of experimentation by handing debuts to four players, including Argentina-born midfielder Cristian Ledesma, for Wednesday's friendly with Romania.

The Lazio midfielder (pictured), who gained Italian citizenship in 2008, will join the likes of Mauro Camoranesi and Amauri in representing the Azzurri without having been born in Italy.

"I feel 100 percent Italian," he told reporters.

Genoa centre-back Andrea Ranocchia, who could join co-owners Inter Milan in January given their injury problems, also wins his first cap when he will be reacquainted with ex-Bari central defensive partner Leonardo Bonucci - now at Juventus.

Palermo full-back Federico Balzaretti and Brescia's ex-West Ham United playmaker Alessandro Diamanti will also make their debuts in the friendly in Klagenfurt, Austria with a number of experienced players such as Andrea Pirlo rested.

Italy, who top Euro 2012 Group C as they recover from a woeful World Cup, also have a new look front line given Antonio Cassano has been omitted from the squad after being suspended by club side Sampdoria for swearing at their president.

Mario Balotelli returns after injury to spearhead the attack despite recently being sent off for Manchester City in the latest episode of immaturity.

"I don't think Mario will suffer tomorrow from the pressure of all the attention on him," Prandelli said.

Alberto Aquilani is back for the first time since February 2009 but fellow Juve midfielder Claudio Marchisio is out injured.

Team: Emiliano Viviano; Davide Santon, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Ranocchia, Federico Balzaretti; Alberto Aquilani, Cristian Ledesma, Stefano Mauri; Alessandro Diamanti; Mario Balotelli, Giuseppe Rossi.


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