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Balotelli set for Italy debut

Young striker in line for Azzurri start

Last Updated: 09/08/10 3:07pm

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Balotelli: Poised for Italy debut

Balotelli: Poised for Italy debut

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Manchester City target Mario Balotelli is poised to make his debut for Italy in Tuesday's friendly against Ivory Coast.

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The young Inter Milan striker, who is reportedly on the brink of a move to Eastlands, was dropped on numerous occasions by former club boss Jose Mourinho last season due to his behaviour.

But new Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli, who succeeded Marcello Lippi following the team's dismal World Cup campaign, has indicated the 19-year-old is likely to start in London alongside fellow debutant striker Amauri and recalled playmaker Antonio Cassano.

Potential

"The idea of starting with Balotelli is that I want to use all the attacking potential at my disposal," said Prandelli.

Former Fiorentina boss Prandelli allowed his squad to select their own shirt numbers for Tuesday's friendly in an effort to build team unity in a squad containing nine new call-ups and only eight players that featured in South Africa.

Balotelli selected the number nine jersey, with Cassano taking 10, but the new coach has played down the significance of the numbers.

He added of Cassano: "I don't give any importance to numbers even if I understand that historically 10 makes fans think of fantasy."

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