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'Talentino' has reacted angrily to Lippi’s decision to leave him out of his Italy squad, and has poured scorn on the much-maligned Pepe.

Marcello Lippi today named his Italy squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and the Republic of Ireland, and the big news was that Antonio Cassano had again been snubbed.

The Sampdoria star has been in stunning form all season long, but, since the turn of the year in particular, he has been unplayable at times. Talentino has struck up a telepathic partnership with January newboy Giampaolo Pazzini, and the pair single-handedly defeated both Milan and Inter in recent weeks.

Cassano and Lippi have never seen eye-to-eye, but it was thought that the 26-year-old's irrepressible form would make it impossible for the coach to turn him down yet again.

This latest cold-shoulder has led to reports that Cassano will never play for Italy again while Lippi is in charge.

When asked if he thought this to be the case, Fantantonio replied, “I could score 50 goals a season with one arm tied behind my back, have 40 assists, and win the Ballon d’Or, and Lippi still wouldn’t pick me.

“I don’t know what his problem is. I have always been sincere and polite to him, except for one time when he cut me up at a roundabout in Florence, and I told him where to go.

“But that was a few years ago, and I didn’t know it was Lippi in the other car. It was all cleared up afterwards.”

Cassano reserved his strongest words for Udinese winger Simone Pepe, who kept his place in the squad despite some dire performances for both club-and-country.

“I have never liked pepper. I once went to have a pizza in Naples, and the chef sprinkled pepper all over it, completely ruining it. I told him that if he didn’t go and make me another pizza immediately, I would smash the plate over his head.

“I don’t like pepper on the dinner table, and I certainly do not like Pepe on the pitch either.

“Lippi says that this guy is a great dribbler down the wing, who beats opponents for fun. Man, Pepe couldn’t even tie up his own shoelaces.

“When I was at Roma with Pepe, he was struggling to get in the reserves. He used to shine my football boots, and I would send him down to the shop to get me snacks.

“I am going to laugh when Italy play against Ireland, and Pepe makes Kevin Kilbane look like a peak Paolo Maldini.”

Please note that this story is satirical

Carlo Garganese