Prandelli set to ring the changes for Irish
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is set to ring the changes for Tuesday's Euro 2012 Group C qualifier against Northern Ireland in Pescara.sports Updated: Oct 10, 2011 12:48 IST
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is set to ring the changes for Tuesday's Euro 2012 Group C qualifier against Northern Ireland here.
Italy have already qualified for the finals in Poland and Ukraine next year having ensured they would win the group with two games to spare following the 1-0 defeat of Slovenia in Florence last month.
Northern Ireland were in contention for second place and a play-off spot until Friday when they lost 2-1 at home to Estonia, having led 1-0.
It means there is nothing riding on the game for either team except pride and UEFA ranking points.
And Prandelli has admitted he will use the game to try out some fringe players.
"I would like to stick with the same formation but I would also like to evaluate those who have played less so far," he said.
"So for the game in Pescara on Tuesday I still have to think hard about what decisions to take."
That means that both Sebastian Giovinco and Pablo Osvaldo could be in line to start up front with Antonio Cassano likely to be given a break following his busy start to the season and Giuseppe Rossi also given a chance to rest his troublesome knee.
Argentine-born Osvaldo could be in line for his debut in the blue shirt of Italy.
"Osvaldo could be useful, he's a modern forward because he can do many things, even though he scores less than others," said Prandelli.
Osvaldo himself has had to fend off accusations that he's a mercenary, having opted to play for Italy rather than the country of his birth.
He has come under fire from politicians in the right-wing Lega Nord (Northern League) party who say he shouldn't be playing for Italy.
However, Osvaldo, who came to Italy five years ago and has Italian ancestors, has already represented the country at under-21 level.
"I feel Italian. My family is Argentine but my wife and children are Italian and it's here that I grew as a footballer," said the 25-year-old.
"I sung the national anthem when I was in the under-21s so for me it won't be a problem to sing it again and I don't think that would be a lack of respect for anyone either.
"In fact I think Italians would like that."
Irish boss Nigel Worthington will also have to make a number of changes, although his are mostly injury-enforced.
Chris Brunt and Sammy Clingan have joined goalkeeper Lee Camp and midfielder Grant McCann in withdrawing from the squad with injury since the Estonia game while Aaron Hughes, Jonny Evans, Josh McQuoid and Jamie Ward were already out.
First choice striker Kyle Lafferty, meanwhile, is suspended meaning Worthington is left with a selection headache, adding to the disappointment of being out of the running for qualification.
"Of course there is frustration and yes I am disappointed, but I try to look at the whole picture," he said.
"You see what you have to work with, the numbers you have, the people who aren't there for one reason or another, but that's international football.
"You can't buy in, sell out or loan someone. You make the most of it and it's as simple as that. No excuses.
"No-one likes losing but I enjoy this game too much to let disappointment or frustration take that away."
First Published: Oct 10, 2011 08:54 IST