Italy coach Roberto Mancini says he intends to unleash Italy's youngsters in EURO 2020 qualifying, giving special mention to Moise Kean and Nicolo Zaniolo after naming his first Italy squad of 2019.
Mancini called up Italian young guns Kean of Juventus and Roma's Zaniolo to the senior Italy squad for the upcoming EURO 2020 qualifiers and made it clear he thinks they are ready for game time.
“We have young players who are improving," he said at a press conference. "We thank Di Biagio because we took several of his players for the European Championship away from him.
“Zaniolo can surely debut for us. Kean? Moise has won so much for his age. Let’s hope he starts like Balotelli did, which is very good.
“I’m confident. We have lots of good players, now the bar needs raising.
“Zaniolo? He’s doing well in the league and I’ve taken note of how Di Francesco played him. He’s improving, but he’s young and it takes time.
“I think his ideal position is in midfield. He has great physical quality and likes to get up the pitch to shoot.”
The young attackers will hope to seize this opportunity to impress given established forwards Andrea Belotti and Mario Balotelli are omitted, while Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne is out injured.
Mancini went for age as well as youth, handing a recall to veteran 36-year-old Fabio Quagliarella who's hit a purple patch of form this season with 21 goals and seven assists in 27 Serie A matches.
Latest Italy squad in full:
GK: Alessio Cragno (Cagliari), Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino)
DEF: Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Armando Izzo (Torino), Gianluca Mancini (Atalanta), Cristiano Piccini (Valencia), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan), Leonardo Spinazzola (Juventus)
MID: Nicolo Barella (Cagliari), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo), Marco Verratti (PSG), Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)
ATT: Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Vincenzo Grifo (Freiburg), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Moise Kean (Juventus), Kevin Lasagna (Udinese), Leonardo Pavoletti (Cagliari), Matteo Politano (Inter Milan), Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)