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Italy call up Cerci as Prandelli plays safe

The 25-year-old, who has played for AS Roma, Pisa, Brescia, Atlanta and Fiorentina and represented Italy at several age levels, was the only newcomer in the squad.

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, missing from the previous squad after falling foul of Prandelli's strict ethics code by angrily confronting match officials in a club game, was recalled.

Antonio Cassano, who has not played since partnering Mario Balotelli in attack at Euro 2012, was again omitted in a decision that no longer raises eyebrows.

Prandelli said in an interview in January that he has not written off Cassano completely but wanted to give a chance to young forwards such as AC Milan's Stephan El Shaaraway.

Italy face Brazil in a friendly in Geneva on Thursday and visit Malta on March 26 in a World Cup qualifier.

Italy squad

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Federico Marchetti (Lazio), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain).

Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Luca Antonelli (Genoa), Davide Astori (Cagliari), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan).

Midfielders: Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Milan), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Andrea Poli (Sampdoria).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan), Alberto Gilardino (Bologna), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Pablo Osvaldo (AS Roma).