Italy coach Antonio Conte insists Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli should be treated the same as any other player in his Italian national squad.
With Balotelli struggling in his first season at Anfield, and yet to score his first English Premier League goal for the Merseysiders, Conte has called the 24-year-old for the first time since taking the national team job in August for Sunday’s UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier with Croatia.
And the Italian boss will only judge judge the former Milan man on how he fares during his time in the international setup.
“I’m worried that people see Balotelli differently to the others,” he told reporters.
“Balotelli is a normal footballer, just like the others, who can also stay on the bench, or in the stands. We don’t need to differentiate Balotelli from the others. He’s just one of the 23 players.”
“Personally, I’m not going to pay attention to talk about the club. People try to exaggerate each situation and I feel sorry for him.”
“Today he is here and he has to answer to me. I will judge him by what he does in the next seven to nine days.”
Conte is also intrigued to see if Balotelli can adapt to his style of play.
“He has significant experience with the national team, he has played at a World Cup and a European Championship, but that’s not enough,” he added.
“He needs to catch my eye and I have to see if he can adapt to our type of football. If he can, he can play in the starting line-up, but he can also be on the bench or in the stands.”
“My duty is to see how I can use them in this national team.”