Prandelli almost left Balotelli out of Italy squad


FLORENCE, Italy (AP) -- Italy coach Cesare Prandelli says he was close to leaving Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli out of his squad for upcoming World Cup qualifying matches.

Prandelli was annoyed that Balotelli chose to have eye surgery just before the last two qualifiers, ruling him out of the matches against Bulgaria and Malta.

Prandelli says he considered omitting Balotelli from the 27-man squad "but then I thought of the games he has played for his country and I was comforted."

Prandelli also says that the games against Armenia and Denmark will be "yet another chance to see if he wants to be a champion."