Former Manchester City and Galatasaray boss Roberto Mancini has jumped to the defence of Mario Balotelli.

The AC Milan striker has been hammered by the local media for his poor World Cup performance.

"A Coach of the Nazionale needs to assess whether a player, Balotelli or anyone else, deserves to play," Mancini told La Repubblica.

"If Mario deserves to be called up at the time a squad is announced because he is playing well in the League, I think he will be called up.

"If he doesn't deserve it, he won't be called up, but you need to assess every player that way.

"He has enormous technical ability. He did very well in the Euros and quite badly at the World Cup, so he needs to be monitored as things progress.

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