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Soccer: Prandelli fights back after Conte's venom

Italy coach says had right to call up Chiellini

03 March, 19:45
Soccer: Prandelli fights back after Conte's venom (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, March 3 - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli responded on Monday after Juventus boss Antonio Conte called him impolite for not telephoning before including defender Giorgio Chiellini in his squad for Wednesday's friendly against Spain.

Chiellini has not played for three weeks because of a calf problem and was an unused substitute in Serie A leaders Juve's 2-0 win at AC Milan on Sunday.

Conte said he only called Chiellini up for the Milan match to enable to him to get back into the big-match spirit but never had any intention of using him because he wanted the player's recovery to continue this week.

"I'm sorry to see him called up," Conte said in the press conference after Sunday's win that enabled Juve to move 11 points clear at the top of Serie A.

"Often the (Azzurri) coach asks for cooperation and we give lots because we supply lots of the players to the national team.

"I'd have expected a call. I don't think this type of behaviour is very polite". Prandelli hit back Monday, saying that if anyone should have called, it was Juve. "Chiellini was available (for Juve) and I have the right to call up players on the bench (in the league game before national duty)," Prandelli said.

"I'm the one who was expecting a call from (Juve general manager Beppe) Marotta". Prandelli has often complained that the Italian soccer league and top-flight clubs do not do enough to support the national team, saying no one cares about the Azzurri between major tournaments.

He was especially critical after failing to get the clubs to release players for a series of one-day training meetings in the run-up to Euro 2012.

But this is the first time he has had such a big bust-up with a club coach since taking over the national team.

Despite the row, Prandelli confirmed reports that he is thinking of renewing his contract. Until recently Prandelli had been expected to step down as Azzurri coach after this year's World Cup in Brazil, having frequently said he missed club soccer. "Something has changed," Prandelli said when asked about reports he was now willing to stay on if given enhanced powers, including greater influence over the youth national teams. "Now I'm thinking about a renewal (of my contract).

"I'm not dictating terms, but there is a technical project. We'll talk about it in the middle of march". Former Fiorentina boss Prandelli took over a national team in disarray after Italy's embarrassing group-stage exit at the 2010 World Cup. He rejuvenated the side and managed to get them playing an attractive offensive style that saw them reach the final of Euro 2012 and qualify for the 2014 World Cup with two matches to spare, even though the current squad has fewer stars than teams of the past.

Prandelli also commented on his decision to drop Daniele De Rossi, on the basis of the national team's code of conduct, after the Roma midfielder punched Inter striker Mauro Icardi during Sunday's 0-0 draw at the Olimpico.

"I'm the judge of certain acts. I don't want to get to the World Cup unprepared and find us with 10 on the field. That's why I can't accept reckless gestures," said Prandelli, who dropped De Rossi before the player was given a three-match ban for the punch. "The code is clear".