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Prandelli wary of putting pressure on Rossi

Associated Press
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, right, speaks to goalie Pierluigi Buffon during a press conference at the national team's Coverciano training complex in Florence, Italy, Tuesday, April 15, 2014, where 42 players were called up for World Cup fitness tests. (AP Photo/Fabrizio Giovannozzi)
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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is hopeful of taking Giuseppe Rossi to the World Cup in Brazil but is wary of putting pressure on the young forward as he recovers from injury.

Rossi was Serie A's top scorer until he re-injured his problematic right knee in January and has only recently begun training again, but the U.S.-born striker was involved in World Cup fitness tests on Monday and Tuesday.

"I can't say anything. The tests have to be evaluated," Prandelli said at a press conference at the end of the two-day camp. "What's important regarding Giuseppe Rossi is not to put pressure on him, he has to recover psychologically as well as physically.

"It's not right to say whether I am pessimistic or optimistic. We have to wait for improvements, to see him on the pitch and then we'll see. I can't say anything else. He's a talent and we want him ready and in the starting 11. But he had a serious injury. We have to wait for a physical and psychological recovery, we are all his fans."

Antonio Cassano was among the group of 42 called up by Prandelli after scoring 11 goals in a fantastic season for Parma.

Cassano has not played for Italy since helping the Azzurri to a runner-up finish at the 2012 European Championship but now is reportedly among the 18 players Prandelli is already certain will be in his final 23-man squad.

Veteran forwards Francesco Totti, Luca Toni and Antonio Di Natale were left out despite impressive seasons.

"These are the players," Prandelli said. "If there are any emergencies, we would evaluate others. But I like seeing the youngsters who have shown lately they can handle the pressure.

"These lads are the best we could have chosen. I spoke to them this morning and told them that until the end of the season they are all playing for their place in the final 23."

One player who was not among the 42 present at the national team's Coverciano training complex in Florence was the in-form Mattia Destro.

The young Roma forward has 13 goals in 18 matches since starting his injury-delayed season in December but fell foul of Prandelli's strict code of ethics after he was handed a three-match ban for punching Cagliari defender Davide Astori during a Serie A match in which he scored a hat trick.

"This morning I spoke to the players and reminded them that the code of ethics also counts in the last month," Prandelli said. "Who makes a mistake stays at home, because it means they can't deal with the pressure of a World Cup.

"I am fed up of seeing certain attitudes. National team players should have the strength not to succumb to provoctaion. I am convinced that no one will make a mistake."

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