Former Italian international and Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola believes Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli can play integral roles in coach Cesare Prandelli's new-look Italy squad.
The Inter starlet is currently involved in a transfer saga with Manchester City, but has the opportunity to prove himself on the international level. Zola, with Pierluigi Casiraghi, gave the 19-year-old his debut with the Azzurrini in 2008.
"Mario must understand it's time for him to step up. It's all in his hands, but he must take the chance," Zola suggested to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"He always behaved well in the Under-21 side and must keep that same spirit with the senior squad."
Meanwhile, Cassano was constantly overlooked by former coach Marcello Lippi over the last two years, but Zola is confident that his disciplinary issues are a thing of the past.
"He looks a lot calmer than he used to be. He is someone who can really make a difference and completely change the team. If the appearances are true than Cassano is a positive change for Italy," said the 44-year-old.
Cassano has not featured for the Azzurri since EURO 2008, while Balotelli is expected to make his senior debut in Tuesday's friendly against the Cote d'Ivoire.