Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has explained not selecting Inter Milan striker Antonio Cassano for his squad.

Prandelli admits he's chosen AC Milan youngster Stephan El Shaarawy ahead of Cassano.

"Lately I have not called Cassano and I compared him to Antonio Di Natale in the two years before the European Championship. I know what these two players can do, but right now we need to qualify for the World Cup and also help youngsters to develop.

"If I had played Cassano in the last few games, then Stephan El Shaarawy probably wouldn't have found space.

"It is important for Italian football that youngsters like El Shaarawy are playing consistently. We must continue along this path and look to the future with optimism."