The inclusion of AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi was the main talking point after Italy coach Marcello Lippi named a 29-man squad for a pre-FIFA World Cup get-together at the Centro Tecnico Borghesiana training centre in Rome on 2 and 3 May.
The 32-year-old, who has scored 21 goals in 48 international appearances, has not played for his country since scoring twice in a 4-0 rout of Azerbaijan in October 2003 and has never appeared under Lippi, his former coach at Juventus.
Lippi's squad does not include players from Roma and Internazionale due to their Italian Cup final showdown this week, while Christian Vieri has also been omitted after doctors reported disappointing progress in the Monaco striker's recovery from injury. Unfortunately for the 32-year-old, his chances of taking part in another FIFA World Cup now appear slim.
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Inevitably, the size of the squad and absence of any players from Roma and Inter ensures Lippi's selection offers only limited clues about the final 23 that will be chosen in a fortnight's time. However, the recall of Inzaghi - his first call-up by Lippi - suggests that he will almost certainly make the cut for Germany 2006.
With Luca Toni, Alessandro Del Piero, Alberto Gilardino and the recovering Francesco Totti all deemed to be certainties for Germany, and Inzaghi also having seemingly squeezed in under the wire, only one place remains for another striker.
Antonio Cassano's fitness and unconvincing showings for Real Madrid have kept him out of the picture along with, it would appear, the injured Vieri, which leaves Vincenzo Iaquinta and Cristiano Lucarelli fighting it out for the last ticket on the plane to Germany. The suggestion is that Iaquinta is in pole position.
Fabio Liverani's performances in the Lazio midfield this season have earned him a call-up while the most significant of the new faces in the squad are Franco Semioli and Marco Marchionni (although the latter has previously been called up by Lippi). Both pacy wingers are known for their ability to beat defenders and provide crosses from wide positions. They also represent a viable alternative to Lippi's current first choice in that role, Mauro Camoranesi.
Their inclusion offers them a first taste of the international scene and means they will be hoping there will be room for at least one of them in the squad to be announced on 15 May. Alessandro Gamberini and Francesco Tavano have also earned international recognition for the first time, although the forward is suffering from a muscular problem that may force his withdrawal from the squad.
Lippi, who is mourning the recent death of his mother, explained the purpose of the get-together. "It is a way for me to thank many of those who have contributed to our achievements over the last two years and to assess the fitness of the players," he said after naming the squad on Sunday. "There are also one or two welcome new arrivals who will come into my thoughts when I draw up the final squad."
Provisional 29-man Italy squad:
Goalkeepers Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Udinese), Marco Amelia (Livorno), Angelo Peruzzi (Lazio)
Defenders Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Palermo), Andrea Zaccardo (Palermo), Fabio Grosso (Palermo), Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Massimo Oddo (Lazio), Daniele Bonera (Parma), Alessandro Gamberini (Fiorentina), Gianluca Zambrotta (Juventus)
Midfielders Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Franco Semioli (Chievo), Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan), Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan), Simone Barone (Palermo), Fabio Liverani (Lazio), Mauro Esposito (Cagliari), Marco Marchionni (Parma)
Strikers Luca Toni (Fiorentina), Alberto Gilardino (AC Milan), Filippo Inzaghi (AC Milan), Vincenzo Iaquinta (Udinese), Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus), Francesco Tavano* (Empoli), Cristiano Lucarelli (Livorno)
*doubtful because of injury