The Manchester City striker, one of the stars of Italy's run to the final of UEFA EURO 2012, has been released by coach Cesare Prandelli after coming down with conjunctivitis. The 22-year-old has been replaced in the squad for Wednesday's match in Berne by Udinese front man Diego Fabbrini.
Prandelli told the Gazzetta dello Sport: "We were hoping [Balotelli] would recover in time, but it wasn't to be. I want to give him a key role in the long term and I expect him to accept responsibility when I do."
With Fabbrini called into the squad as Balotelli's replacement, Prandelli's available front-men are all aged 22 or younger. "We must raise the bar by enriching an already quality pool of players," the coach went on. "I want players with different characteristics who we can assess with the future in mind."
The former Fiorentina boss revealed his experimental Azzurri squad was selected with qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil firmly in mind.
"The plan is to prepare for the next two years, starting from now, by working out which young players are ready to make the grade," he added. "That is the challenge against England on Wednesday night and it is an important one. I can see the desire to get off to a good start in many of my players' eyes."