Man City's Mario Balotelli handed Italy boost for Euro 2012

Manchester City's Italian striker Mario Balotelli
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli insists Manchester City's Mario Balotelli remains a key part of his plans for Euro 2012

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli insists Manchester City's Mario Balotelli remains key to Italy's Euro 2012 plans.

The temperamental striker was left out of the Azzurri squad in February after his stamp on Tottenham's Scott Parker during a Premier League clash.

"I never really thought of doing this without Balotelli, he is a focal point of the national team," Prandelli said.

"Have I made peace with Balotelli? Yes, although to be honest we never argued in the first place."

Question marks hung over Balotelli's club future in England after his red card against Arsenal prompted City manager Roberto Mancini to announce he would "probably" sell the forward at the end of the current campaign.

Balotelli has since apologised for his dismissal at the Emirates, which came on the back of a four-match suspension for a controversial challenge on Parker in January.

However, the incident cast further doubt over his international future following Prandelli's decision to omit him from the squad for the friendly against the United States in February in line with a code of conduct he introduced upon taking over in 2010.

But Prandelli told Italian broadcaster Rai that Balotelli was never out of contention for a place in his squad for this summer's European Championship, in which Italy face defending and world champions Spain, Ireland and Croatia in Group C.

Prandelli added: "I was pleased that he took responsibility with his statements after the latest incident at Manchester City. I like those who stand up and accept responsibility for their actions."

Top Stories