Balotelli sustains hamstring injury
The Liverpool striker has returned to his club after sustaining a "hamstring strain" and "mild groin" pain in training on Friday, a statement released by the Italian Football Association (FIGC) on Saturday announced.
Balotelli, who had been recalled to the Azzurri squad for the first time since the World Cup, will therefore miss Sunday's top-of-the-table Group H qualifier with Croatia at San Siro, as well as Italy's friendly against Albania next Tuesday.
The news represents another blow in what has been a difficult season for the 24-year-old, who has scored just twice in 14 appearances since joining Liverpool from Milan in August.
Juventus defender Angelo Ogbonna has also been ruled out of Italy's upcoming matches with a hamstring problem of his own.
The FIGC confirmed that, while the former Torino man had shown some improvement in his condition, Italy's coaching staff decided it was best for him to sit the games out as a precaution.