Torino winger Alessio Cerci has been named by Italy coach Cesare Prandelli in a 27-man squad to face Brazil and Malta. Cerci is selected alongside the returning duo of AC Milan defender Mattia De Sciglio and Genoa left-back Luca Antonelli as the Azzurri prepare to face Brazil in a friendly match in Geneva on Thursday before visiting Malta for a FIFA World Cup™ qualifier on 26 March.
Cerci, 25, represented Italy at U-21 level six times and could earn his first senior cap after contributing five goals and dominating the creative play on Torino's return to Serie A. Rossoneri youth-team graduate De Sciglio, 20, was an unused substitute against England in August and is promoted from Devis Mangia's U-21 set-up once again thanks to a series of resolute displays for Milan.
Twenty-six-year-old Antonelli was last named in an Italy squad in 2010 and receives a fresh call-up in recognition of his solid performances in Genoa's battle against relegation. Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti is excluded, however, after picking up an injury while playing for the Ligue 1 leaders but there are no other notable absentees.
Roma duo Pablo Osvaldo and Daniele De Rossi serve competitive suspensions for the game in Malta but are eligible to face Brazil on Thursday.
Italy squad to face Brazil and Malta:
Goalkeepers: Buffon (Juventus), De Sanctis (Napoli), Marchetti (Lazio), Sirigu (Paris St Germain)
Defenders: Abate, De Sciglio (both AC Milan), Antonelli (Genoa), Astori (Cagliari), Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini (all Juventus), Maggio (Napoli), Ranocchia (Inter Milan)
Midfielders: Candreva (Lazio), Cerci (Torino), De Rossi (Roma), Diamanti (Bologna), Giaccherini, Marchisio, Pirlo (all Juventus), Montolivo (AC Milan), Poli (Sampdoria)
Forwards: Balotelli, El Shaarawy (both AC Milan), Gilardino (Bologna), Giovinco (Juventus), Osvaldo (Roma).