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The Azzurri coach has made it clear that the Milan attacker faces stiff competition for a starting berth and might end up benched in Brazil

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has insisted that Mario Balotelli is not a guaranteed starter at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

The AC Milan striker has developed into one of the Azzurri's star players since making his senior debut in 2010, but Prandelli feels he has plenty of adequate alternatives for the 23-year-old.

"Balotelli? Nobody will be untouchable. We will have to take it one game at a time and decide what works best against which opponent," Prandelli told Corriere della Sera.

"You have to motivate Balotelli in order to get the best out of him. That's worked out well when we did it in the past. He occasionally makes mistakes, but he never gives up. He has scored 14 goals for the national team. That's quite a lot. He needs to be close to the goal.

"But when you think about a difficult competition like the World Cup, I cannot say that he will start in each game.

"I am happy to have plenty of alternatives. Not too long ago, nobody seemed ready, but now we have [Mattia] Destro and [Ciro] Immobile."

Italy will have to deal with England, Uruguay and Costa Rica in the group stage at this summer's tournament.

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