Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is confident Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano can be effective at international level.

Cassano's inclusion for Prandelli's debut against Ivory Coast is the most controversial of his selections.

Prandelli said: "Cassano has reached maturity now. It is an extraordinary opportunity for him. His Azzurri adventure can be very consistent if he feels himself to be a protagonist and a focal point for his teammates."

The Italy boss is also having Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli work with him this week.

"As for Balotelli, all these lads here have great talent, but they must also prove they are grown-ups. Too often we treat them like spoilt children.

"I want to create a feeling of empathy with players like him, to let him know I am here, I am listening and what can I do to help you?

"I think that together Mario and I can change the way some people view Balotelli."