Antonio Di Natale has not played for Italy since Cesare Prandelli assumed their reins following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Despite the Azzurri coach recently saying the Udinese man is in his thoughts, the 34-year-old’s age, coupled with the recent form of fellow forwards Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano, Alessandro Matri, Pablo Osvaldo, Giampaolo Pazzini and Giuseppe Rossi, suggest Totò has little chance of earning a ticket to UEFA EURO 2012.
However, Di Natale believes he can work his way back into the fold by maintaining the admirable prolificacy he has displayed for his club over the past two seasons. The Naples native hit 29 goals in 35 league games in 2009/10, scored 28 times in 36 outings last term, and has nine in 11 to his name this one.
“I don’t think that you need to be a certain age to be part of the [Italy] squad,” said Di Natale. “I think scoring more than 60 goals in two seasons is enough to put yourself in the spotlight for selection.
“It’s just up to the coach to decide whether to pick me or not. In the meantime I am at his disposal. For now I am just concentrating on Udinese, but I would be very happy to represent Italy again.”
Prandelli has succeeded in getting Italy back on the right track since their humiliating first-phase exit from South Africa 2010. They cruised to a place at EURO 2012, winning eight and drawing two of their ten preliminaries, while in 2011 friendlies they also drew 1-1 in Germany and beat world champions Spain 2-1 at home.
However, one alleged weakness has been a lack of firepower. Indeed, while Gli Azzurri conceded just 0.2 goals per game during their qualifying campaign for the European finals, they failed to score away to Northern Ireland and only recorded 1-0 wins over Slovenia, both home and away, and Faroe Islands in Torshavn. Furthermore, their last outing ended in a 1-0 loss to Uruguay in Rome.
After watching Di Natale score in Udinese’s 2-0 win over Roma last time out, Prandelli said: “Di Natale is a player I am keeping under consideration.”
I Bianconeri coach Francesco Guidolin today said: “I don’t want to give any advice to Prandelli, because he knows what to do. I can only say that Di Natale, who I see and train on a daily basis, is a world-class player.”
Udinese, who visit Inter Milan on Saturday, are currently third in Serie A, level on points with second-placed AC Milan and one behind Juventus.
Di Natale is bidding to become only the third man in history to win three successive Capocannoniere awards, following Gunnar Nordahl and Michel Platini. The former Empoli player is just one goal shy of leading marksman German Denis, who is on loan at Atalanta from the Udine outfit.
Di Natale has made 36 appearances for Italy, scoring ten goals. The last of those run-outs was in their last first-phase match in South Africa against Slovakia, when he was on target in a 3-2 defeat that condemned La Nazionale to elimination.