ROME (AP) — United States-born forward Giuseppe Rossi has been called back to Italy's squad after almost two years of injuries, and Mario Balotelli remains in the team despite a three-match ban with AC Milan.
The Azzurri have already qualified for next year's World Cup, and face Denmark and Armenia in their final two qualifiers. The 26-year-old Rossi was a fixture in coach Cesare Prandelli's attack until he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a game against Real Madrid in October 2011.
After three operations, Rossi transferred to Fiorentina in January but only returned to full form at the start of this season and has scored six goals in eight matches for the Tuscan squad. Rossi missed Italy's run to last year's European Championship final and he also didn't play when the Azzurri finished third in the Confederations Cup earlier this year. His last match with Italy came against Serbia in Oct. 2011.
Rossi has scored six goals in 27 appearances with Italy. As for Balotelli, there was concern that Prandelli's code of ethics would prevent the striker from being called up, but the coach decided the ban wasn't a problem since it expires Sunday.
Forward Alessio Cerci, who tops the Serie A scoring chart with six goals for Torino, was also called up. Italy plays Denmark in Copenhagen on Friday then hosts Armenia in Naples. Italy leads Group B with 20 points, followed by Bulgaria (13), Denmark (12), Czech Republic (9), Armenia (9) and Malta (3).
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Federico Marchetti (Lazio), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain).
Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Davide Astori (Cagliari), Federico Balzaretti (Roma), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Lorenzo De Silvestri (Sampdoria), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan).
Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Andrea Poli (AC Milan), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Alberto Gilardino (Bologna), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Pablo Osvaldo (Southampton), Giuseppe Rossi (Fiorentina).