ROME (Reuters) - Giuseppe Rossi will be playing for a place in Italy’s World Cup squad when Cesare Prandelli’s side meet Ireland in a friendly in London on Saturday.
Rossi started just twice for Fiorentina in 2014 following a series of knee injuries but is set to start against Ireland, a match Prandelli will be using to assess the American-born attacker’s physical condition before naming his 23-man squad for Brazil.
“I see something particularly amazing in him. His internal calm and his desire to overcome any difficulty,” Prandelli said at Friday’s news conference at their Coverciano training camp.
”We have the match tomorrow, and we have to put aside the positive feelings we have for the boy.
”We need to see how he endures pressure, physical clashes, and we need to see him without fear of going into tackles.
“He has overcome all the physical and psychological tests up to now. What we want to understand is if psychologically he can take on certain movements.”
Rossi will partner Ciro Immobile, who according to Italian media is set to join Borussia Dortmund next season following an agreement between Torino and Juventus to sell the young attacker to the German club.
Italy start their World Cup campaign against England in Manaus on June 14, with Prandelli expecting Group D, which also includes Uruguay and Costa Rica, to be challenging.
“We’re in a particularly difficult group and England go into the World Cup with five or six players who have had incredible seasons,” said Prandelli.
“They haven’t had any problems selecting young players, which means they’re convinced that they can have an impact. They’re very good.”
Italy anticipate Ireland employing a physical style similar to what they can expect from Roy Hodgson’s England side next month.
“Tomorrow will be a match to watch because it will give us an idea of what we can do and how far we will go,” said Prandelli.
“Ireland are a physical side and that’s good for us, because we want to see how the players respond physically to this type of football.”
The starting line-up predominantly features players that are still unsure of their place in the final squad, including Immobile and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti, who will operate from behind the front two.
Rossi is still the biggest question mark, however, but should he pass his final test on Saturday he will almost certainly make the squad.
“Rossi has worked continuously here without ever stopping, and this is another positive sign. Tomorrow we have the match and then we’ll see,” said Prandelli.
“For him tomorrow it will be almost like he’s playing his first World Cup match.”
Reporting by Terry Daley; Editing by Josh Reich