Italy must work hard to make up for shortcomings - Conte


Antonio Conte wants Italy to bridge the gap to the strongest sides at Euro 2016 by working harder than any of their rivals.

Italy finished top of their qualifying group after going unbeaten in their 10 matches, but the Euro 2012 finalists are not widely considered among the major candidates to dethrone holders Spain in France later this year.

Conte, who will step down from his role as head coach at the end of the tournament, concedes that some squads boast more quality but has challenged his players to fight harder than the rest in order to go one better than four years ago.

"I am really willing to work well. I am excited because we have a very important rendezvous in June. We have worked two years to get there," he said.

"I am really fired up and ready to work on every point of view. I repeat - these are experiences that might happen only once in a lifetime. I have great pride to be here. I feel some responsibility, that's inevitable. I really want to work with the boys.

"We are building an important working group. We are aware that, on paper, there are other national teams who are stronger than us, but we also know that we can fill the gap with our dedication and commitment."

Italy face Spain and world champions Germany in this month's friendly matches.