Pazzini picked for Italy friendlies

ROME - Italy coach Marcello Lippi rewarded in-form Sampdoria forward Giampaolo Pazzini by recalling him in a 25-man squad for this month's friendlies with Netherlands and Sweden.

Pazzini, who has scored seven goals for Sampdoria in Serie A so far this season, got the last of his three caps in June's 3-0 win over Northern Ireland in a friendly.

But Lippi continued to ignore calls to bring back Pazzini's team mate Antonio Cassano, a reformed rebel who was regularly producing match-winning performances before a recent lull.

Pazzini was among a number of players with just a handful of caps, or only one, to be brought back into the fold.

The others were Fiorentina midfielder Marco Marchionni, Napoli defender Christian Maggio, Genoa defender Domenico Criscito and forward Raffaele Palladino plus Parma midfielder Daniele Galloppa.

Lippi also called up three uncapped players -- Palermo defender Mattia Cassani and midfielders Davide Biondini and Antonio Candreva of Cagliari and Livorno respectively.

Juventus duo Vincenzo Iaquinta and Claudio Marchisio are injured along with Fiorentina centre back Alessandro Gamberini and AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso.

Gaetano D'Agostino is not included after limping off in Udinese's 1-0 defeat by Fiorentina on Sunday, while his team mate Simone Pepe misses out, as do Napoli forward Fabio Quagliarella and Bayern Munich's Luca Toni.

Davide Santon has dropped to the Under-21 squad after his failure to make Inter Milan's starting lineup of late.

The world champions play Netherlands on Saturday in Pescara to show solidarity with the Abruzzo region hit by an earthquake that killed 297 people in April and left thousands homeless.

Italy then face Sweden in Cesena on November 18.


Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Federico Marchetti (Cagliari).

Defenders: Salvatore Bocchetti (Genoa), Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus), Mattia Cassani (Palermo), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Genoa), Fabio Grosso (Juventus), Nicola Legrottaglie (Juventus), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Gianluca Zambrotta (AC Milan).

Midfielders: Davide Biondini (Cagliari), Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Antonio Candreva (Livorno), Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Daniele Galloppa (Parma), Marco Marchionni (Fiorentina), Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria), Andrea Pirlo (Milan).

Forwards: Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina), Raffaele Palladino (Genoa), Giampaolo Pazzini (Sampdoria), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal).