Italy boss Conte to show stars ‘no mercy’

New Italy coach Antonio Conte says he will lay down the law, vowing to "show no mercy" as he looks to build a successful team.

Italy boss Conte to show stars ‘no mercy’

Conte held his first training session yesterday in Coverciano, Florence, since replacing Cesare Prandelli at the helm of the Azzurri outfit.

The former Juventus tactician will make his coaching debut with Italy in an international friendly against Holland in Bari on Thursday.

Italy begin their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign away to Norway five days later.

“Whoever arrives here must deserve to remain in the national team otherwise I will show no mercy to anyone,” Conte said. “It’s better to lose one or two [players] and gain 25 rather than losing all of them.”

New Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli was left out of Conte’s 27-man squad selection for the upcoming games.

Balotelli, who joined Liverpool from AC Milan for £16 million last month, is suspended for the qualifier against Norway after picking up two yellow cards at this summer’s World Cup.

However, Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is also suspended, but has been included.

“I don’t need to send messages to anyone,” Conte said when asked about Balotelli. “Those that know me know that I don’t hand gifts to anyone.

“Whoever comes to the national team needs to know what to do and what they must do to keep their place.”

Conte also confirmed that veteran Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo will continue to play for the national team, though he is currently injured.

Italy and Fiorentina have suffered a blow, however, with news that striker Giuseppe Rossi will have to undergo another knee surgery.

Wales will discover today whether their opening Euro 2016 qualifier can be played in Andorra.

Last Friday Uefa announced that more work needed to be done on the new artificial 3G surface at the national stadium in Andorra la Vella before the September 9 qualifier can go ahead.

Tests on Thursday showed the ball was rolling too fast on the surface and if Andorra cannot rectify the problem then the match will be moved.

Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson believes Wayne Rooney is the “ideal choice” to captain a new-look England, who face Norway at Wembley tomorrow before their European Championship qualifiers begin in Switzerland next Monday.

Henderson said: “I think Wayne was the ideal choice, really. I mean he is a natural leader in the dressing room and also on the field as well. I think it was a really good appointment.”

Elsewhere Tottenham’s Erik Lamela and Benfica’s Nicolas Gaitan have been drafted into Argentina’s squad for the friendly against Germany tomorrow due to a raft of injuries, including to star man Lionel Messi.

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