Ventura plans Balotelli talks


Mario Balotelli has been handed an international lifeline after Italy coach Giampiero Ventura revealed he would hold talks with the in-form Nice striker.

The 26-year-old has not added to his 33 caps in the last two years, but has impressed in Ligue 1 this season, netting six goals in as many matches.

And Ventura has hinted at the possibility of a recall for the former Milan and Manchester City forward.

"Two months ago, he'd gone a year-and-a-half without playing," said Ventura in quotes reported on FIFA's website. "You can't suddenly change history in two months. But he's been important [for Nice].

"I've never heard Balotelli's technical ability questioned, but you have to consider other aspects with Mario.

"I'll have a chat with him to understand his desire to be in contention. We're open to [calling up] anyone."

Italy face a World Cup qualifier in Liechtenstein on Saturday as they seek to add to their seven points from three Group G games.

Ventura's side are overwhelming favourites but, having needed a late comeback to see off Macedonia last time out, the coach is taking nothing for granted.

"It's a qualifier that we're expected to win, but you still have to win," he added. "Nobody wins in football without playing.

"Against Spain they lost 8-0, but until [55 minutes] they were only 1-0 down and hadn't allowed many scoring chances. We must prepare with great care to avoid any problems."