MILAN, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Inter Milan midfielder Roberto Gagliardini was surprisingly left out of the Italy squad named on Saturday for the World Cup qualifying showdown in Spain next week.
Injury-plagued Riccardo Montolivo, who made only nine Serie A appearances for AC Milan last season, was included while second-choice goalkeeper Mattia Perin returned following a knee injury in January.
Spain and Italy, who meet in Madrid on Sept. 2, are level on 16 points from six games at the top of Group G although Spain lead with the better goal difference. Italy host Israel three days later.
Only the group winners qualify directly for the World Cup while the eight best runners-up in the nine European groups go into two-legged playoffs.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa);
Defenders: Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Andrea Conti (AC Milan), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Leonardo Spinazzola (Atalanta)
Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Lorenzo Pellegrini (AS Roma), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Antonio Candreva (Inter Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Eder (Inter Milan), Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton), Ciro Immobile (Lazio). (Writing by Brian Homewood) (Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)