sport

Cassano could get Italy chance

Antonio Cassano has a chance of returning to the Italy squad and playing at this summer's World Cup, according to Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli.

The 30-year-old Parma forward has not featured for his country since their 4-0 defeat to Spain in the Euro 2012 final, but has had a solid 2013/14 campaign.

He has scored 11 Serie A goals this season, helping the Ducale club climb to sixth place in Serie A.

"With regards to Cassano, more than anything I met with (Parma coach and former Italy manager) Roberto Donadoni," Prandelli said to Libero.it.

"He made me realise that, apart from the Christmas period, Cassano has had continuity of performance and behaved very well."

Two veteran strikers that are unlikely to make the trip to Brazil are Francesco Totti and Luca Toni, despite the pair having enjoyed successful campaigns at Roma and Hellas Verona, respectively.

Both players were members of Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning side.

"For Totti, we must have the utmost respect, so I will not go into the details," Prandelli said. "I know Luca (Toni) very well. His campaign has been extraordinary, but perhaps it is better to speak of those who are here in Coverciano."

Prandelli still has some thinking to do before finalising his 23-man squad for this summer's showpiece tournament in Brazil.

"I do not even know that myself," he said. "I have only 18 in my head.

"In order to complete that list, I have to first understand how those 18 are and then add the others. We shall see.

"All I can say is that all that are here (in Coverciano) have a chance (to go to Brazil)."

The former Fiorentina tactician is set to sign a two-year contract extension with the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) before the World Cup, which will see him remain in charge until after Euro 2016.

"Will I sign (a new contract) before the World Cup? Absolutely," the 56-year-old said."Is my salary at 1.7million euros a year? This is not so. Evidently, few know this, but I have not signed anything.

"In any case, I am currently the coach of a (big) national team in Europe that is paid the least.

"Is it strange to renew without a sporting achievement first? In fact, this is the first time it has happened in Calcio.

"This is proof that we have worked well and that our path may continue regardless of what happens."

Prandelli took up the Azzurri reins after their shock first-round exit at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

He led his team to the Euro 2012 final, where they lost 4-0 against Spain, before finishing third at last year's FIFA Confederations Cup after a semi-final loss to Spain on penalties.

The Azzurri enjoyed a straightforward passage to this summer's World Cup finals, negotiating their qualifying campaign unbeaten and sealing their spot in Brazil with two games to spare.

They will take on England in their Group D opener in Manaus on June 14 before further pool games against Costa Rica and Uruguay.