Lazio's Stefano Mauri Determined To Establish Himself In Italy Set-Up

Mauri is ready for the Northern Ireland challenge...
Italy midfielder Stefano Mauri is bracing himself for action against Northern Ireland in a key Euro 2012 qualifier in Belfast on Friday and insists that he is now ready to cement his status in the Azzurri set-up.

The Lazio midfielder was one of the surprise inclusions in coach Cesare Prandelli's squad for the upcoming qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Serbia. Mauri is clearly delighted with his first call-up in three years and plans to give his all if given the chance on Friday.

"I'm here to stay," said the 30-year-old, according to Sky Sports. "This call is to the merit of Lazio. When a team is doing so well, the individual talent emerges.

"But this return to the national team is also down to my personal determination to believe in my quality. I feel more responsibility and I believe I can give a lot to this group.

"I hope to do well with the Azzurri jersey for a long time knowing that there is plenty of competition. To return after three years is a great satisfaction.

"I am ready. My ideal position would be to play at the heart of midfield but I could also play on the wing or as playmaker.

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"I am an attacking midfielder that can play in several roles but it will be up to Prandelli to decide in which position to place me."