Prandelli believes Italy are ahead of schedule

Italy national coach Cesare Prandelli believes his squad are "ahead of schedule" as preparations begin for their FIFA World Cup campaign.

Prandelli called a preliminary squad together last month to put the players through some fitness tests, and the coach was pleased with what he saw.

"I'm glad that the league allowed me to carry out these tests," he told Radio Rai.

"We have all the data that will allow us to start work straight away when the lads finish their seasons. We're ahead of schedule."

Verona's 36-year-old forward Luca Toni has enjoyed a fine season in Serie A, with 19 goals to his name thus far, and the veteran's form has led to some suggesting he could merit a call-up to Prandelli's squad for the finals in Brazil next month.

Though Prandelli, who managed Toni at Fiorentina, feels it is time for the national squad to look to the future, he hinted the veteran will be his first option if he requires an emergency call-up.

"Toni? He's rediscovered his joy for the game," he said. "He was instrumental and a reference for many young players.

"I don't know if Toni will (be named in the squad) because we have started a project and want to continue along that path.

"But if we are short, then I know who I'll turn to."