Balotelli and Pirlo recalled by Italy

MILAN - Striker Mario Balotelli and midfielder Andrea Pirlo were the big-name recalls to Italy's squad on Monday for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia in Modena on June 3.

The pair have missed recent squads because of injury-hit seasons but Cesare Prandelli has eagerly brought back two of his favourite players for the Group C encounter and the friendly against Ireland four days later in Liege, Belgium.

Pirlo is still contracted to AC Milan for a few more weeks but has announced he is leaving the Serie A champions with Juventus his likely destination.

Several other players with uncertain club futures are included with Sampdoria captain Angelo Palombo there despite his side's relegation.

Juventus centre-back Leonardo Bonucci misses out through injury meaning Alessandro Gamberini wins a rare call-up in a squad otherwise containing few surprises.

The Azzurri, dumped out in the group stage of last year's World Cup as holders, lead Group C by five points as they edge towards next year's finals in Ukraine and Poland.


Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (Palermo), Emiliano Viviano (Bologna).

Defenders: Davide Astori (Cagliari), Federico Balzaretti (Palermo), Mattia Cassani (Palermo), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Genoa), Alessandro Gamberini (Fiorentina), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan).

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Thiago Motta (Inter), Antonio Nocerino (Palermo), Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria), Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City), Antonio Cassano (Milan), Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina), Sebastian Giovinco (Parma), Alessandro Matri (Juventus), Giampaolo Pazzini (Inter), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal).