2014 World Cup: Rossi’s determination an inspiration, says Italy coach Prandelli

The injury-plagued striker Giuseppe Rossi remains the biggest dilemma for Cesare Prandelli as the deadline looms for the Italy coach to trim his World Cup squad to 23 players.
Giuseppe Rossi only returned to action with Fiorentina at the start of this month. Maurizio Degl’Innocenti / EPA
Giuseppe Rossi only returned to action with Fiorentina at the start of this month. Maurizio Degl’Innocenti / EPA

Injury-plagued striker Giuseppe Rossi remains the biggest dilemma for Cesare Prandelli as the deadline looms for the Italy coach to trim his World Cup squad to 23 players.

Prandelli has been moved by Rossi’s effort to prove that he is ready to play, yet remains cautious about gambling on the player who, when fit, is arguably Italy’s most-prolific and consistent scorer.

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Italy’s provisional 30-man squad have been training outside Florence for the last week, and with little real news, Italian media have speculated endlessly on who will be among the unlucky seven.

Many other coaches saved themselves the tension by announcing their definitive 23-man squad well ahead of Monday’s deadline.

However, after Italy repeatedly ran out of gas during matches at Euro 2012, Prandelli is closely monitoring the players’ fitness to make sure that those he takes to Brazil are capable of outlasting the opposition.

The latest consensus is, that of the seven forwards in the provisional squad, Mario Balotelli, Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci are certain to make the cut, Antonio Cassano has a good chance and Lorenzo Insigne is likely to be dropped.

That would leave Rossi vying with Roma’s Mattia Destro, who has also battled back from injury, for the fifth and final spot.

Rossi would certainly get the sympathy vote. The US-born forward’s troubles began when he suffered an anterior cruciate injury while playing for Villarreal in a Spanish league match against Real Madrid in 2011.

He fought desperately to be fit for Euro 2012, only to re-injure the knee in training and miss the tournament.

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He made an excellent comeback with Fiorentina this season, scoring 14 goals by early January to make him Serie A’s leading scorer.

However, he then suffered a less-serious injury, a second degree sprain to the medial collateral ligament, in the same knee. It sidelined him until the start of this month.

“He is a talent with great quality, one of the best in Italy,” Prandelli said. “He is determined, hungry and made a thousand sacrifices to be here in the running for the World Cup.

“He is the proof that champions need to have character and he can set the example for everyone. Clearly, he has to be in good shape and that’s what we want to see.

“His determination, his desire to make all the sacrifices to be here, is a demonstration that even the great players have to put in effort.

“This is a good lesson for the whole group.”

sports@thenational.ae

Published: May 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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