x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Mario Balotelli in line to return for Italy against Denmark

Mario Balotelli could make his return to the international fray when Italy host Denmark in a 2014 World Cup qualifier.

Mario Balotelli, centre, has not played for Italy since the 4-0 defeat to Spain in the final of Euro 2012 in July. Maurizio Degl'Innocenti / EPA
Mario Balotelli, centre, has not played for Italy since the 4-0 defeat to Spain in the final of Euro 2012 in July. Maurizio Degl'Innocenti / EPA

MILAN, ITALY // Mario Balotelli, the Manchester City striker, could make his return to the international fray tomorrow when Italy host Denmark in a 2014 World Cup qualifier.

Balotelli was prevented from playing in Italy's 3-1 win away in Armenia on Friday because of flu-like symptoms. But the striker was given the thumbs-up by team doctors after a weekend of light training.

If selected by the Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, it would be Balotelli's first international appearance since Euro 2012. Balotelli was unavailable for selection against Bulgaria and Malta because he underwent laser surgery on his eyes.

The timing of the operation, however, did not go down well with Prandelli. "I admit I was upset by Balotelli's decision to have an eye operation the same week that two Italy games were on the horizon," Prandelli told reporters after naming his squad.

Meanwhile, Brian Marwood, City's chief football operations officer, has warned Balotelli he must set a better example.

Balotelli has been involved in a number of high-profile incidents since joining City in 2010. The 22 year old has been involved in bust-ups with teammates, threw a dart at a City youth team player and set off a firework in his own bathroom.

Earlier this month, Balotelli angered Roberto Mancini, the City manager, by walking straight down the tunnel rather than staying to support his teammates after being substituted and Marwood is disappointed with his behaviour.

"I think that it's important to make a good example," Marwood was quoted as saying by several English newspapers yesterday.

"I think … - and we all know who we are talking about - that you will get people within the system who do not show the right values …

"In the main, we have a fantastic group of players here. I look at Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Joe Hart, Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott.

"We have a lot of players who think and behave in the right way. You have to make sure they're the role models."

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