'Mario needs to play' - Balotelli fitness concerns Mancini

Comments
Jorginho salvaged a 1-1 draw against Poland in the Nations League but Italy turned in a patchy performance as the forward struggled

Roberto Mancini called on Mario Balotelli to improve his fitness and Italy to cut out the mistakes after they laboured to a 1-1 Nations League draw against Poland.

Napoli forward Piotr Zielinski put the visitors ahead five minutes before half-time, with Jorginho earning a share of the spoils in the 78th minute from the penalty spot after Jakub Blaszczykowski brought down substitute Federico Chiesa.

Mancini is charged with masterminding Italy's recovery from the humiliation of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

He recalled old protege Balotelli for the end-of-season friendlies against Saudi Arabia, France and Netherlands, with the Nice striker netting a fine goal in the former match.

However, a protracted saga over his future with the Ligue 1 club after a mooted move to Marseille failed to materialise has left the 28-year-old short of match practice – something that showed over the course of an ineffective 62 minutes in Bologna.

"Mario needs to play, he is an experienced player on the international stage," Mancini told Rai Sport after Balotelli applied ice to his thigh on the bench having made way.

"But his fitness levels are an issue right now. Only the best condition is needed."

Article continues below

Jorginho was culpable with a misplaced pass before being dispossessed in the build-up to Poland's opener and mistakes were a recurring theme of a fitful showing.

"It's the first important game, so a few errors can happen, but overall the boys have done well," Mancini said.

"We made a few too many mistakes when playing out from the back and that allowed Poland, to use the counter-attack, which was what they wanted to do anyway."

Next article:
Klopp: Sturridge 'paid 100% back' for being handed Champions League start
Next article:
Liverpool hit 57-year high with dramatic Champions League slaying of PSG
Next article:
Real Madrid already have their Ronaldo replacement in superstar Asensio
Next article:
Sam Morsy leads Wigan Athletic past Hull City
Next article:
'My players aren't sh*t!' - Pochettino blasts back at Spurs selection calls
Close