Injury-hit Italy draft in duo as Belotti is ruled out for a month
Italy have called up midfielders Bryan Cristante and Roberto Gagliardini after losing yet another two players to injury.
Roma duo Daniele De Rossi and Lorenzo Pellegrini became the latest names added to a lengthy casualty list ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Albania.
Coach Gian Piero Ventura was already without Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti and striker Andrea Belotti of Torino after the pair were both hurt while playing for their respective clubs at the weekend.
Atalanta's Cristante could now win his maiden international cap for Italy having rejected the opportunity to represent Canada, the country of his father's birth.
"I am very happy with my first call-up for the senior Italy squad," he told Mediaset Premium.
"I had gone rather off the radar, so I'm extremely pleased now. I rushed here and I'll relish every minute. I come to the national team with great hunger and fresh legs, now it's up to me to do well."
Italy sit second in Group G, three points behind leaders Spain, and need a solitary point from their remaining two games to secure a spot in a two-legged play-off for a place at next year's tournament. in Russia.
Ventura will hope Belotti is available to feature in any potential play-off fixtures in November, with the frontman facing a race against time to be fit.
The 24-year-old - who has scored four goals in 11 international appearances - was carried off after injuring his right knee during Torino's 2-2 draw with Hellas Verona on Sunday.
After undergoing tests on Monday, his club confirmed Belotti had suffered damage to the collateral and medial ligaments and will be out of action for a month.