Pirlo: I expected Italy call up

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The midfielder has been included in the squad for the matches against Malta and Bulgaria and hopes he will remain a key player for Antonio Conte

Andrea Pirlo says he was had expected his call up to the Italy team for the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers and hopes that it is not his last.

Pirlo had been expected to end his international career after Euro 2016, he remains part of Antonio Conte's side and has been included for the upcoming matches against Malta and Bulgaria.

Despite a poor start to life in America, the 36-year-old midfielder says he had anticipated the call up from his former Juventus coach.

"Earlier this week he had phoned me to warn me that I would be called up," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Against Malta and Bulgaria we have two important matches.

"I had hoped I would be included and I hope to have other opportunities. These are big games because we still have to play to qualify."

The ex-Juve star reflected on his old team's start to the season, admitting he did not expect them to lose their opener against Udinese but feels they will beat Roma on Sunday.

"I didn't think that Juve could lose to Udinese. But the Italian league is difficult, there are pitfalls in every game. But I believe that they are still the best team.

"I think they will win against Roma because they are the champion, although Roma has strengthened a lot and are trying to reach the level of Juventus.

"It will certainly be a balanced game and nice to see."

Pirlo admitted that things are not going smoothly for his new side who have won only one of their last six games.

"It is not going very well, but we are working hard and unfortunately we have a hard time getting points. The important thing now is to go to Italy and do well with the national team."

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