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The former defender says the AC Milan forward faces tough competition to retain his first team slot at international level and must respond accordingly

Fabio Cannavaro has warned Mario Balotelli there are plenty of players capable of taking his starting berth for Italy and told him to up his efforts for the Azzurri.

The Azzurri legend feels the striker faces tougher competition with the national side compared to the relative ease he is selected for AC Milan, and therefore should work harder to earn his starting berth.

"The national team are not a club," the 40-year-old told reporters.

"Mario is a strong player, but there are many players available to the national team."

Meanwhile, John Malago, president of CONI (the Italian Olympic Committee) has voiced his opinion that it is time for Balotelli to take more responsibility.

"Balotelli is a player with great technical abilities," he said.

"He should be helped to protect him from excessive pressure, but he cannot expect help every day of the year.

"Mario must learn to help himself."

Italy will lock horns with Armenia for a friendly match on Tuesday.

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