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Prandelli urges Balotelli to shine on big stage

The Milan striker is expected to lead the line in Italy's Group D opener with England, a match that will mark his first appearance at the World Cup if he gets the nod.

Balotelli did, showcase his talent at a major international tournament with three goals in Italy's run to the final of UEFA Euro 2012.

The 23-year-old scored 14 goals in 30 Serie A appearances last term, but at times was subjected to criticism as Milan endured a torrid season that saw them finish eighth.

However, Prandelli believes the mercurial striker has the perfect opportunity to silence the doubters by starring in Brazil.

"Balotelli is an important player for the national team, like a lot of others," Prandelli said. "But he must come to the World Cup fully prepared.

"He would do well to listen to his Milan manager Clarence Seedorf and channel the emotions he is feeling into something positive on the pitch.

"He knows the World Cup can be the opportunity of a lifetime for a footballer."