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The Azzurri coach's recent comments have made quite a stir in Australia and Italy, but should they be taken seriously? We examine the veterans' chances of an Italy recall

Is Cesare Prandelli serious about considering Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti for his World Cup squad?

On the face of it, the coach's claim that he could pick the creaking veterans for selection appears nothing more than cheerful pleasantries, a doffing of the cap to two evergreen favourites of the Italian game.

Del Piero of course has been front and centre in the Italian public's imagination during the last three weeks, with Sydney FC's pre-season tour - and the packed crowds which came to cheer their marquee player - a reminder of the affection the former Juventus man is still held in throughout the country.

As with 'ADP', talking up Roma stalwart Totti is always an easy way to score points with the public, particularly in the eternal city.

But surely the Azzurri coach doesn't really intend to take Del Piero (who turns 39 in November) and Totti (who will be 37 next month) to Brazil?

Totti formally retired in July 2007, only to make himself available for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, an offer Marcello Lippi declined to take up.

Del Piero meanwhile has never called time on his international career, but has not been selected in an Italy squad since September 2008.

Among the brightest talents of their generation, there is no doubt both players, in their prime, would have been among the first names jotted down on the squad list for the trip to South America next year.

They would also be ideally suited to filling the gaping vacancy currently open in the national team ranks for a classic Italian 'trequartista'.

There is no shame in structuring a team around Andrea Pirlo; the other players available to Prandelli naturally compliment having the Juve midfielder pulling the strings.

Mario Balotelli is well-suited to leading the line, with Stephan El Shaarawy offering pace and width.

Behind them, Claudio Marchisio - powerful, direct and athletic - occupies space in the frontline previously reserved for a 'fantasista' like Del Piero or Totti.

But Prandelli's reliance on deep-lying playmaker Pirlo, who will be 35 when the World Cup kicks off, leaves Italy without a Plan B.

If the former AC Milan star is injured, none of Daniele De Rossi, Riccardo Montolivo or Alberto Aquilani are capable of compensating effectively for his absence.

The experience and abundant talent of Del Piero or Totti could provide Prandelli with a creative alternative, even if it was off the bench.    

So let's not dismiss the idea out of hand. After all, who wouldn't want to see one or both of modern calcio's great survivors strutting their stuff under the Rio sun next year?

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