Injury scare for Italy as Balotelli knock is another blow to Euro preparations
19:09 GMT, 4 June 2012
Italy's tumultuous preparations for Euro 2012 have been shaken further still by Mario Balotelli being forced to pull out of a training session on Monday.
The Manchester City striker picked up a knock in training, believed to be a knee injury, leaving Cesare Prandelli sweating on his fitness.
Medical staff in the Italy camp are working to ascertain whether the manager will have to replace the forward, with Mattia Destro a likely candidate for a call-up if necessary.
Scare: Mario Balotelli hobbles away from an Italy training session
Prandelli might have to replace centre-back Andre Barzagli who strained his left calf during the 3-0 humbling by Russia in a friendly on Friday.
National team doctor Enrico Castellacci explained the injury would likely take 20 days to heal.
He said: 'We could change a player 24 hours before the Euros. But we will try to get him fit.'
'We are confident he can recover but in any case he would not be available in the first phase.'
Inter Milan defender Andrea Ranocchia,
who was cut from the final 23-man squad, could be called up if Italy
decide not to persevere with Barzagli.
The coach has already lost defender Domenico Criscito to the latest match-fixing scandal to engulf the country.
Medical assistance: Cesare Prandelli orders Balotelli to get his injury seen to
Prandelli said, in the wake of the investigation, he would have no objection to the country being withdrawn from Euro 2012.
The Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti
said football in the country would benefit by being suspended for up to
three years while the problems were rooted out.
His team looked drained as Euro rivals Russia took them to pieces.
Prandelli said: 'Russia were better than us physically, from an intensity and temperament point of view.
Touch and go: Andrea Barzagli's participation is in doubt
Headache: Balotelli (right) has the talent to help Italy progress in the Euros
'Perhaps losing in this manner can help us as we return to work in order to improve.'
As well as both the match-fixing investigation and the injury troubles, an earthquake in Parma on May 29 saw one of their warm-up friendlies cancelled.
They were due to play Luxembourg that night but the game was called off after the disaster which saw at least 15 people die.