Prandelli: No handouts for young Azzurri

Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli said his younger squad members will not be given a spot in the national team until they are ready.

Prandelli's team is set to host Bulgaria in Palermo on Friday and the lead-up to the World Cup qualifier has featured discussions around the development of young Italian players.

Italy's head coach called on Serie A clubs to use more young local players rather than sign foreigners after Catania started nine Argentines versus Fiorentina on August 26.

But one day before his team's qualifying match for next year's World Cup finals, Prandelli ruled out developing young Italians in his national team and argued they must bide their time behind the veterans of the squad, such as vice-captain Giorgio Chiellini.

"Today I asked Chiellini how many matches he has played with the national team and he said 64 and he is playing as a regular player since 2008," Prandelli said on Thursday.

"Before 2008 sometimes he was capped, sometimes he was on the bench.

"This is the path that young players should follow. They should follow the example of these big champions, be humble and enjoy the experience they're having.

"When they have the right personality and the ability to wear the national team's jersey and bear the burden it involves, then they'll always be regular players."

In a friendly versus Argentina in August, Prandelli selected a starting XI with an average age of 27.91 with the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Andrea Barzagli of Juventus - who are 34 and 32 respectively - not included.

But in Italy's Confederations Cup semi-final versus Spain in June; their last competitive fixture; Prandelli's starting line-up had an average age of 29.91.

It is expected Prandelli will select a similar line-up against Bulgaria and in their next World Cup qualifier versus Czech Republic on Tuesday.

Barzagli and Juventus team-mate Claudio Marchisio are both injured, while Riccardo Montolivo of Milan is suspended, as are Mario Balotelli (Milan) and Dani Osvaldo (Southampton).

Italy lead UEFA's Group B of World Cup qualifying by four points from Bulgaria and are expected to wrap up qualification for Brazil 2014 over the next week but Chiellini is convinced the job is far from over.

"I believe people are underestimating the situation because everyone says we have almost qualified, whereas we'll have to play two important matches against good teams able to create difficulties to anyone," Chiellini said.

"They have proved to be able to win against great national teams.

"We want to achieve our objective as soon as possible but we're also aware that it's going to be more difficult than many people think."


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