Conte: Balotelli just a normal player

Italy coach Antonio Conte insists Mario Balotelli should be treated the same as any other player in his squad.

Conte called Balotelli up for the first time since taking the national team job in August for Sunday's Euro 2016 qualifier with Croatia.

Balotelli has struggled for form since moving to Liverpool in the last transfer window and is yet to break his duck for the Merseyside club in the Premier League.

However, Conte will only judge the 24-year-old on how he fares during his time in the international set-up.

"I'm worried that people see Balotelli differently to the others," he told reporters.

"Balotelli is a normal footballer, just like the others, who can also stay on the bench, or in the stands. We don't need to differentiate Balotelli from the others. He's just one of the 23 players.

"Personally, I'm not going to pay attention to talk about the club. People try to exaggerate each situation and I feel sorry for him.

"Today he is here and he has to answer to me. I will judge him by what he does in the next seven to nine days."

Balotelli was criticised in some quarters for his lacklustre showings at the World Cup, where Italy were eliminated at the group stages.

But Conte is intrigued to see if the former Milan forward can adapt to his style of play.

"He has significant experience with the national team, he has played at a World Cup and a European Championship, but that's not enough," he added.

"He needs to catch my eye and I have to see if he can adapt to our type of football. If he can, he can play in the starting line-up, but he can also be on the bench or in the stands.

"My duty is to see how I can use them in this national team."