Behave or be banned, Italy coach Prandelli warns
Hard-line manager sets discipline boundaries for World Cup selection
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has warned that players won't be considered for the World Cup if they are sent off or caught misbehaving in club matches before the end of the season.
He also effectively ruled out veteran AS Roma forward Francesco Totti's hopes of making the squad but would not commit himself on the chances of injured striker Giuseppe Rossi.
Prandelli, famous for his tough disciplinary stand against bad behaviour, was speaking as 42 World Cup hopefuls gathered for two days of fitness tests at Italy's national team headquarters outside Florence.
"This morning I faced the players and reminded them that the code of ethics will remain in force in the final month [before the World Cup]," said Prandelli. "Anyone who messes around will stay at home, because it will mean that they can't handle the pressure of a World Cup.
"I'm sick and tired of seeing certain types of behaviour. National team players should have the strength to avoid rising to provocation. But I'm convinced that nobody will make a mistake. When I spoke to the players about this, none objected."
The 42 hoping to go to Brazil included some surprises such as Verona's Brazilian-born midfielder Romulo and 20-year-old Federico Bernardeschi, who plays for second-tier FC Crotone.
Parma striker Antonio Cassano, who has not played for Italy since Euro 2012, was included but veterans Totti, Luca Toni and Antonio di Natale were all missing.
AS Roma striker Mattia Destro, serving a four-match ban for elbowing an opponent in a match at Cagliari, was also left out as he became the latest player to fall foul of Prandelli's code.
Rossi, who has not played since suffering a new knee problem in January, took part in the tests, raising hopes the US-born forward could still make the plane to Brazil. "I can't say anything about Giuseppe Rossi. We don't want to put pressure on him. He needs tranquillity to recover. It wouldn't be right to say if we're optimistic or pessimistic," said Prandelli adding that Cassano was "smiling and wants to make our choice difficult."
Prandelli said Totti (37), Di Natale (36), Toni (36), all in excellent scoring form in Serie A this season, would only be called up as a last resort. "I have great respect for them and they deserve more consideration than I can give them now, but they will only be in contention in case of an emergency.