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Criscito recalled to Italy squad for qualifiers

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MILAN (AP) -Zenit St. Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito has been recalled to the Italy squad for the first time since being dropped from the European Championship team due to his involvement in a match-fixing scandal.

Criscito - who is still under investigation - was dropped after he was questioned over alleged wrongdoings while at Genoa.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has also called up Stephan El Shaarawy for the World Cup double header against Armenia and Denmark after the teenage striker's impressive start to the season.

El Shaarawy made his debut in a friendly against England but this is his first inclusion in a squad for a competitive international fixture. The Milan forward has scored five goals in his past four matches.

El Shaarawy's inclusion continues the multi-cultural evolution of Italy's squad. The 19-year-old has an Egyptian father and an Italian mother. Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is also back in the squad after returning from an eye operation.

Alberto Gilardino has been recalled - over a year after he last played for Italy - but there is still no place for Antonio Cassano in the 27-man list, despite the Inter Milan striker's solid start to the season.

Italy plays in Armenia on Friday before entertaining Denmark in Milan, four days later.

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Italy Squad:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint Germain), Emiliano Viviano (Fiorentina);

Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Federico Balzaretti (Roma), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St. Petersburg), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Angelo Ogbonna (Torino), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan).

Midfielders: Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna), Emmanuele Giaccherini (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain);

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City), Mattia Destro (Roma), Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan), Alberto Gilardino (Bologna), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Pablo Osvaldo (Roma).

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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