FIFA World Cup 2018: Italy interim coach Luigi Di Biagio recalls Gianluigi Buffon for friendlies

Rome: Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon has been called up by interim coach Luigi Di Biagio for friendlies against England and Argentina later this month.

Buffon, 40, had called time on his international career after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, losing a two-legged play-off to Sweden to miss the tournament for the first time in 60 years.

File image of Gianluigi Buffon. Reuters

File image of Gianluigi Buffon. Reuters

But the 40-year-old Juventus skipper had indicated that he was ready to make a comeback if Di Biagio needed him for the friendlies in England on 23 and 27 March.

Buffon, who has 175 caps for Italy, will be given a better send off than on the sad night Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup in his last game against Sweden.

Mario Balotelli has however been overlooked despite speculation the in-form Nice player would get his first cap since the 2014 World Cup.

But Di Biagio opted instead for 20-year-old AC Milan forward Patrick Crutone, who has been one of the stars this season with his club.

Both Cutrone and Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa move up from the Under-21 side with Giacomo Bonaventura getting his first call since November 2016.

AC Milan centre-back Alessio Romagnoli however has been ruled out with a muscular problem.

The Azzurri are still without a permanent coach after Gian Piero Ventura's dismissal after the World Cup elimination.

Italy squad

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa)

Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Gianmarco Ferrari (Sampdoria), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Leonardo Spinazzola (Atalanta), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea)

Midfielders: Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Roberto Gagliardini (Inter), Jorge Luiz Frello Jorginho (Napoli), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain)

Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Antonio Candreva (Inter), Patrick Cutrone (AC Milan), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Simone Verdi (Bologna)

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Updated Date: Mar 17, 2018 22:45:41 IST

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