Prandelli defends Rossi omission

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has defended his decision to leave Giuseppe Rossi out of his World Cup squad, claiming the Fiorentina forward knew he would not be included weeks ago.

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Rossi's omission from Prandelli's 23-man squad has caused a stir in Italy. Although he had spent four months sidelined by a knee injury up until a brief return in May, he was nevertheless widely expected to partner Mario Balotelli at the World Cup this summer.

On Tuesday, Prandelli explained that, while he had never given up hope of the former Manchester United and Villarreal forward regaining full fitness in time for the World Cup, he had made it clear to the 27-year-old a month ago that he was not going to make it.

"I met up with Rossi in Coverciano before naming my 30-man squad," Prandelli said at a news conference. "I went to talk to him, to inform him that he had not played enough minutes since returning from injury.

"My intention then was to tell him that he was not part of the 30, but I realised that he could be an example for everybody; a beautiful story. At that time, I told him he would not make the 23. I told him twice."

Rossi nevertheless did not appear to take the confirmation of his exclusion well, while his grandfather defined Prandelli a traitor for leaving him out. The Italy coach says he gave him one final chance to change his mind, but Rossi failed to take it in a friendly against Republic of Ireland last weekend.

"I called him prior to our last game," Prandelli said. "Some of his fitness values were good, but some were not so good. I told him that I wanted to see him do what a player has to do after suffering a trauma, to be an attacker. I didn't see what I wanted to see. It would have been such a great risk to take him to Brazil and I didn't feel up to taking it. I told him that he was not yet completely cured."

While Rossi impressed Prandelli with his effort and dedication, Mattia Destro left the coach with a different viewpoint. The Roma forward turned down the chance to fly to Brazil as a 25th player, on stand-by in case of injury like Inter Milan defender Andrea Ranocchia.

"I asked him if he would consider coming to Brazil as a stand-by player and he just said 'I'll think about it'," Prandelli said. "I don't want to judge him, but it's only fair that I clarify the situation. There were three players who came to Coverciano thinking they would not make the 23, yet they are in."

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