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Cassano told to shape up

Prandelli urges striker to improve fitness

Last Updated: 30/03/11 5:15pm

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Cassano: Told to work on fitness

Cassano: Told to work on fitness

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Italy boss Cesare Prandelli believes Antonio Cassano must improve his fitness if he is to fulfil his potential.

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The AC Milan striker appeared overweight and out of shape during the Azzurri's 1-0 victory away to Slovenia in a Euro 2012 qualifier last Friday.

Prandelli is aware of the problem and has told Cassano he would be a better player if he had the physique to match his ability.

"He knows how to take responsibility for himself but if that was backed up by great conditioning, he would also be incisive," said the coach.

Cassano is one of the few players in the current Italy set-up thought to be capable of becoming a superstar at international level, with a sense of gloom enveloping the country's football supporters after last summer's dismal World Cup campaign at the lack of talented youngsters coming through.

Still alive

Prandelli is nevertheless upbeat about Italy's future prospects, saying they do not necessarily need star individuals to be successful if they play as a team.

"The climate is more serene now, the post-World Cup pessimism has disappeared," he told Ansa.

"The criticism made us give something extra. My personal satisfaction comes from seeing a group of players who play as a team, who know how to play.

"Everyone said we were dead but instead we're alive. We can still be a great team even without great players, although we do have some, starting with (goalkeeper Gianluigi) Buffon."

Italy are in pole position to qualify for Euro 2012 from qualifying Group C, having collected 13 points from their opening five games.

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