Prandelli: World Cup spots up for grabs
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Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has declared the door is still open for players to earn a spot in the Azzurri's FIFA World Cup™ squad. With seven months to go before the event in Brazil, Prandelli will be evaluating prospects in upcoming friendlies against Germany on Friday and Nigeria three days later.

"There are places available," Prandelli said in Tuesday's press conference. "Many players are motivated, they want to prove that they can be a part of such a group. I have in my mind 35 players so nothing is definite."

The Azzurri finished their qualifying campaign unbeaten and top of Group B with 22 points from ten games.

"I have a precise idea of what type of football I want the team to play," Prandelli said. "But we have to be ready. Seeing as I am not able to work with the team a lot on the pitch, I've had to use official games to understand this. During the games, there will be various interpretations but our reference module will be that of four midfielders."

I have a precise idea of what type of football I want the team to play
Cesare Prandelli, Italy coach

Prandelli has handed a vote of confidence to Mario Balotelli despite the AC Milan striker having struggled to make an impact in recent weeks. The former Manchester City player, who has not scored for the Rossoneri since netting the equaliser at Ajax on 1 October, was included in Prandelli's latest roster.

"Great champions have to make their team win," Prandelli said. "They have something more to give but they have to be included in the game plan. You have to arrive to games mentally prepared. Mario is going through a strange and delicate time, but if one has character, then you can gain more strength from this. He knows how to play football, he just has to get his confidence back."

One player that has shone this season is Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi.

Rossi, who is Serie A's top scorer with 11 goals, scored a brace in Sunday's 2-1 victory over Sampdoria. However, the 26-year-old is likely to sit out Friday's friendly against Germany in Milan due to flu symptoms.

"I would really like him to play but Rossi has arrived with a fever, hence we shall see," Prandelli said.

Rossi recently returned to play for the Azzurri having not featured for the national team in the past two years after enduring a long spell on the sidelines due to successive anterior cruciate ligament injuries on his right knee.