Mario Balotelli has been given a chance to stake a claim to be in the Italian national team in the next international break.
The current Adana Demirspor striker could write another chapter in his international career, having last played for the Azzurri in September 2018 during the Nations League.
According to Sky Sports Italia, Roberto Mancini will call up 35 players to gather this month with the opportunity to impress and make the Italy squad for when they play their crucial World Cup playoff against North Macedonia in March.
Balotelli left Monza at the end of last season to join Turkish club Adana Demirspor, where he has scored nine goals from 21 games, including a goal in their latest Turkish Super Lig match.
The 31-year-old has made 36 international appearances, with 14 goals to his name. Of the current Italy players who are available, only Ciro Immobile has scored more.
After three and a half years away from the Italian national team, Balotelli has a great chance to convince Mancini that he’s capable of playing a part in the Azzurri’s road to the World Cup in Qatar.
But, Mancini insists the return of Mario Balotelli to the Italian national team is not a desperate move.
“It’s a three-day test, so it’s a good time to assess many situations,” Mancini told the press.
“The door of the national team is always open to everyone and if there are players who can help us, we are happy.”
“Maybe when we’re desperate we bring out our best, but I don’t think this situation is desperate.”
Mancini says Balotelli’s physicality will be evaluated this week, as well as how he gels with the team.
“On a technical level he was always good, that’s not up for debate, we just need to see how he is physically,” Mancini said.
“We haven’t seen him up close in recent months, so seeing him in person for a couple of days can be very helpful. Then he has to fit into a group that has been working really well.”
Should Italy beat North Macedonia, they will face Portugal or Turkey in the final stages of the World Cup playoffs.