Balotelli out of Italy squad with conjunctivitis
FLORENCE, Italy ● Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has pulled out of the Italy squad for Wednesday’s friendly match against England and been replaced by Diego Fabbrini of Udinese.
Balotelli withdrew from the squad on Monday with conjunctivitis.
The 22-year-old Fabbrini is the ninth uncapped player called up for the friendly in Switzerland.
Fabbrini’s inclusion is a continuation of coach Cesare Prandelli’s focus on youth for the match ahead of Italy’s first World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria on Sept. 7.
Italy beat England on penalties in the quarterfinals at the European Championship en route to the final, which it lost to Spain.
● The Football Association says Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has withdrawn from the England squad to face Italy on Wednesday with an ankle injury.
Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott has been added to the team by coach Roy Hodgson, a decision taken before 18-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain pulled out.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s exit from the side follows the withdrawal of striker Daniel Sturridge with a toe injury and goalkeeper Joe Hart to a back problem Sunday.
Wednesday’s friendly in Berne, Switzerland will be a repeat of the Euro 2012 quarterfinal in which Italy beat England on penalties, before going on to finish as runner-up to Spain in the tournament.
● Central defenders Pepe and Bruno Alves will miss Portugal’s friendly game against Panama this week due to injury, weakening the Portuguese back line.
Portugal team doctor Henrique Jones said Monday that Real Madrid’s Pepe has sprained his right ankle and Zenit St. Petersburg’s Alves has a left thigh strain.
Midfielder Carlos Custodio also dropped out of Wednesday’s friendly with a thigh problem.
Pepe and Alves were replaced by Braga’s Nuno Coelho and Porto’s Henrique Sereno.
Andre Santos of Deportivo da Coruna took Custodio’s place.
● Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been called up to replace Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for Wednesday’s friendly match with Argentina.
Germany coach Joachim Loew called up the 20-year-old ter Stegen on Monday after Neuer pulled out citing a hip injury.
Neuer said he was withdrawing from the squad on Sunday after he had helped Bayern Munich to a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the German Supercup.
Ter Stegen made his Germany debut in a 5-3 loss to Switzerland in May but did not make the final cut for the European Championship, with Ron-Robert Zieler and Tim Wiese accompanying Neuer to Poland and Ukraine.
Loew dropped Wiese from the initial squad named to face Argentina in Frankfurt, likely signaling the end of the 30-year-old Hoffenheim goalkeeper’s international career.
● Aston Villa midfielder Chris Herd has been dropped from the Australia squad to face Scotland in an international friendly on Wednesday after failing to recover from a quadriceps strain.
Lucas Neill, who is currently without a club after being released by Al Jazira, will captain the team in Edinburgh. Forward Harry Kewell, who is also unaffiliated after leaving the A-League’s Melbourne Victory, was not considered by coach Holger Osieck, while Tim Cahill, who signed in July with the New York Red Bulls, was not available.
Australia has played Scotland on four previous occasions, most recently winning 2-0 at Hampden Park in 2000.
The Socceroos are preparing for the final round of Asian World Cup qualifying against Jordan on Sept. 11 and Iraq on 16 October.
● Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny has pulled out of the France squad to play Uruguay in a friendly because of a calf injury.
Koscielny was given permission to return to London after medical tests at the France training camp on Monday, one day after being hurt in Arsenal’s 4-0 victory over Cologne in a friendly.
France coach Didier Deschamps says he will not call up a replacement for Wednesday’s match, his first in charge since taking over from Laurent Blanc after the European Championship.