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Mancini calls for mentality change: 'Young Italy players need more game time'

1:07 AM MYT 23/03/2019
Roberto Mancini Italy coach
The former Man City boss took over last year following the Azzurri's failed World Cup qualification campaign

Italy manager Roberto Mancini has called on clubs and the national set-up to give young Italians more game time.

The former Manchester City, Inter and Zenit boss was appointed in May last year with the Italian national team in crisis after they failed to qualify for the World Cup. 

Mancini since led the Azzurri to second place in Nations League Group Three, finishing runners up to Portugal by three points, and will take on Finland on Saturday evening as Italy kick off their European Championship qualifying campaign.

“In Italy, the final result is more important than how we get somewhere,” Mancini told Italian outlet Esquire.

“We’ve won with this mentality for decades, but football has changed. If you can’t set up a team who also play good football, you can’t keep winning.

“I came in at a difficult time. Many said Italy had no good players coming through, but I think Italy have always raised good players, even at difficult times.

“There are [players coming through] and, since they’re also young, I thought we could try something different.

“In my day, 20-year-olds already had 150 first-team appearances under their belts. They need to play more.

“They’re all good technically, but experience is crucial, especially what you pick up from international games.

“The national team can do so much for Italian football, as can even lads who no-one knows or who play in the lower Leagues.

“I hope, within a few years, that we get back to seeing teams who each have 5-6 good Italians.”

Reports in the Italian press have claimed Mancini will name a young squad to face Finland, including 20-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and 21-year-old striker Federico Chiesa.

Although the former Premier League champion will reportedly stick with experienced Juventus centre-backs Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini as well as midfielders Jorginho and Marco Veratti.

The Italians will also face Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece and Lichenstein as they aim to progress through Group J.