Giaccherini backs 'defective' Balotelli

Italy midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini feels Mario Balotelli has a role to play despite not being included in Antonio Conte's first squad.

Balotelli, who joined Liverpool from Milan last month, was not a part of the 27-man squad for the 2-0 friendly win over Netherlands on Thursday.

The former Manchester City man will also miss their opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway on Tuesday due to suspension.

Despite Balotelli's absence and his "defects", Giaccherini is convinced that the infamous forward can force his way back into the reckoning.

"That decision was down to the coach," the Sunderland said.

"Mario is a great player who can be of use to the Nazionale in future, even though he has a few defects.

"There's nothing to say he won't be here next time."

Conte, who replaced Cesare Prandelli following Italy's poor World Cup campaign, spoke highly of Giaccherini previously and the 29-year-old seemed relieved at the former Juventus coach's appointment.

"Of course the fact Conte thinks so highly of me is a responsibility," he added.

"The game against Holland on Thursday was the one that meant the most to me since I went into the Nazionale. As long as the coach gives me the opportunity to play, I will always be happy and at his disposal.

"I will admit when Conte was announced as the coach of the Italy squad, I thought I'd have a better chance [of being picked]."