Soccer

US-born Rossi left off Italy's 23-man squad for the World Cup

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The Canadian Press
6/1/2014 2:31:37 PM
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FLORENCE, Italy -- United States-born forward Giuseppe Rossi was left off Italy's final 23-man squad for the World Cup on Sunday.

Coach Cesare Prandelli apparently judged that Rossi hadn't fully recovered from his latest right knee injury in January. It was likely a difficult decision since Rossi has always been one of Prandelli's favourite players.

Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne was selected instead.

Rossi played 71 minutes in Italy's 0-0 draw with Ireland on Saturday but failed to make much of an impact.

Rossi was also one of the final cuts by then-coach Marcello Lippi in 2010, although Lippi said last week that he regretted that decision.

Now, Rossi will have to wait until 2018 -- when he'll be 31 -- for a chance to play in the World Cup.

Also cut from Prandelli's 30-man preliminary squad were: forward Mattia Destro; Brazilian-born midfielder Romulo, who has been dealing with a muscle problem; and fullbacks Manuel Pasqual and Christian Maggio.

Key midfielder Riccardo Montolivo was ruled out after breaking the tibia bone in his left leg against Ireland.

Center back Andrea Ranocchia was selected as a 24th man to go to Brazil as a possible replacement for Andrea Barzagli, who has been fighting injury all season.

Rossi was born in New Jersey to Italian parents and was offered a chance to play for the United States at an early age but he has always said it was his dream to play for the Azzurri.

Rossi led Serie A with 14 goals in 17 matches with Fiorentina until he re-injured his right knee in January, sidelining him for four months. He returned a month ago but has not played a full 90 minutes since coming back and occasionally appeared hesitant against Ireland.

Rossi initially tore his right anterior cruciate ligament during a match with Villarreal against Real Madrid in October 2011 and needed three operations before returning with Fiorentina in May 2013.

Insigne scored twice when his Napoli club beat Rossi's Fiorentina 3-1 in the Italian Cup a month ago. That was Rossi's first match back.

Besides sure starter Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Torino strike partners Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci were also chosen up front.

Cassano made the squad following a resurgent season with Parma. After two years away from the national team, his appearance against Ireland was his first since the 2012 European Championship final.

Immobile led Serie A with 22 goals in 33 appearances and Cerci is a reliable winger.

Torino fullback Matteo Darmian, who made his Italy debut against Ireland and can play on either the right or the left, was also included, along with Argentine-born centre back Gabriel Paletta.

In midfield, the newcomers are Paris Saint-Germain's Marco Verratti and Parma's Marco Parolo.

Verratti, in particular, shined against Ireland and is considered an eventual replacement for Andrea Pirlo.

Four-time champion Italy opens its World Cup campaign against England in Group D on June 14 then faces Costa Rica on June 20 and Uruguay on June 24.

The Azzurri play Luxembourg in Perugia on Wednesday then fly out to Brazil a day later.

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Italy:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain).

Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Gabriel Paletta (Parma).

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli).

Giuseppe Rossi (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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