Insigne, El Shaarawy & Santon - Introducing the Italy under-21s who play Ireland on Monday

Ireland's participation at the 2013 Uefa Under-19 European Championship is under threat as the Italians lead the way. Ryan Kelly profiles the Azzurrini
By Ryan Kelly

Italy currently sit top of Group 7; unbeaten in five games and six points ahead of Ireland. Coach Ciro Ferrara is a well-respected figure in Italian football. A former Napoli and Juventus defensive stalwart, Ferrara had a spell managing Juventus in 2009 before taking the job as manager of the U21s with his assistant Angelo Peruzzi.

Despite his history as a defender, and his team's excellent defensive record, Ferrara is notably offensive in his tactical outlook, playing a 4-3-3 formation, and as such we've singled out several attacking threats to the Young Boys' in Green hopes of qualification when the sides meet on Bank Holiday Monday at Sligo's Showgrounds.

Twenty-year-old Lorenzo Insigne is a diminutive attacker and played last season at Serie B outfit Pescara on loan from Napoli.

He was in prolific form for the Delphini last season and made his debut for Italy's under-21s in October 2011, scoring a brace against Liechtenstein.
Despite having limited opportunities with his club, Manolo Gabbiadini's consistently excellent form for the Italian youth teams ensures that he merits a place in the squad.

His remarkable goal-scoring prowess will be a source of concern for Noel King.

A player of mixed Egyptian and Italian heritage, 19-year-old Milan forward El Shaarawy is one of the youngest players in the squad.

He has represented Italy at various levels and brings a wealth of senior experience and technique to the squad.

While at Internazionale, full back Davide Santon was heralded as the next Paolo Maldini and made his debut for the senior Italian national team as a 17-year-old in 2009, the first of seven caps.

However, the 20-year-old has struggled since and moved to the Premier League last summer.
Like Lorenzo Insigne, 22-year-old Ciro Immobile was on loan at Serie B side Pescara, where he was the leading goal-scorer in the league.

He is only a recent call-up, scoring his first goal for the Azzurrini in a friendly against Scotland in April 2012.