Italy boss Mancini on possible Balotelli recall: The doors are open

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Mario Balotelli Brescia
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The Brescia forward has not played international football since September 2018, but has been given hope over a return

Italy coach Roberto Mancini insists the door remains open for Mario Balotelli to make a return to the national team.

Balotelli has not played for his country since a 1-1 draw with Poland in September 2018, when he featured for just over an hour of the Nations League fixture.

The forward scored five goals in 19 appearances for bottom club Brescia before the Serie A season was halted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, having returned to his homeland after three years in France with Nice and Marseille.

Still, Mancini knows all about the player's qualities from their time working together previously, having coached him at Inter and Manchester City prior to taking charge of the Azzurri.

"If he only thinks about football and does what he has to do, the doors are open, for him as for many other players who may not have been called up," Mancini said in an interview with  Sport Mediaset.

"Mario is like everyone else - he has important qualities, but it depends only on him."

Balotelli is not the only player who could benefit from Euro 2020 being pushed back due to the Covid-19 outbreak across Europe.

Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo was set to miss the tournament this year due to injury, yet now has time to recover and be part of Italy's plans in 2021.

Mancini said of the versatile 20-year-old: "He will grow like the other younger boys. Another year will be important for him.

"The first time I saw him he played as a midfielder and I think that's his position. But he has the possibility to play wide on the right, as he is playing in Rome at times. 

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"If a player with important qualities can fill multiple roles without any problems, this is an advantage for him and for us."

Italy qualified in impressive fashion, running away with Group J with a 100 per cent record, giving Mancini confidence they can do well when the finals eventually take place.

"Bringing the championship back to Italy after so many years, since the last one was won in 1968, would be a magnificent thing we want to do. We have the qualities to do it," he added.

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