Lippi riled by hostile reception reports

ROME - Italy coach Marcello Lippi has been rankled by media reports he could receive a rough reception for overlooking Sampdoria's Antonio Cassano when the world champions host Ireland in Bari on Wednesday.

Lippi again looked elsewhere when picking his squad for Saturday's World Cup qualifier in Montenegro and next week's visit by joint Group Eight leaders Ireland, despite the Bari-born playmaker's excellent form in Serie A.

"I'm very annoyed about certain articles I have read that would make one think we'll encounter a hostile climate in Bari," Lippi told reporters on Friday.

Former Bari, AS Roma and Real Madrid forward Cassano has matured in his two seasons at Sampdoria, leading Italian media outlets to launch a campaign to get him back in the national side.

Lippi, however, is unmoved.

"Every national team coach has his cross (to bear), a player he's under pressure from the press and public (to pick)," he said.

"I don't explain certain omissions because it sparks off a bigger mess and there's no end to it. Those who bowed to pressure from the press in the past did not get very far."

Italy are level with Ireland on 10 points from four matches at the top of Group Eight. Bulgaria are third with three points having played a game less.