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Buffon backs Totti for World Cup

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon described Roma forward Francesco Totti as a footballing "immortal" and believes it would be difficult to leave him out of the 2014 World Cup squad if he maintains his present club form.

Francesco is immortal.

He is a player who can make a difference at any stage and at any age.

It's normal that you speak of him in those terms (as a national team candidate) but it is also true that we are in October and that there are still eight, nine months until the World Cup. I believe that, if he is still playing this way at the end of the season, no coach, player or fan would have any doubts (about selecting him).

– Italy goalkeeper Gigi Buffon

Balotelli injury 'under control'

Mario Balotelli (left) with the Italy team doctor, Enrico Castellacci. Credit: PA

Italy's medical staff insist "everything is under control" regarding forward Mario Balotelli's minor knee problem but he could yet miss Friday's World Cup qualifier against Denmark.

The AC Milan star missed Italy training on Wednesday morning with what has been diagnosed as a left adductor strain.

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Totti not ruling out Italy return

In-form Roma captain Francesco Totti has not ruled out playing for Italy again.

The 37-year-old has led the Giallorossi to seven wins in as many games in Serie A, and Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has said he may look to call up the forward for next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil.

For the time being I'm thinking only about Roma.

In the spring I will see what my physical condition is and we will decide.

But you can never say never."

– Roma legend Francesco Totti speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Prandelli could call on Totti

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli will try to tempt Francesco Totti out of international retirement if his sensational form continues up to the World Cup finals next summer.

Totti is in fantastic form. His condition right now does make you reflect.

If the World Cup was around the corner, I would have no doubts and would absolutely call him up.

But we will evaluate the player's condition one month prior to the World Cup.

– Italy manager Cesare Prandelli

Italy and Holland book places in Brazil

Italy and Holland became the first European teams to book their places at next summer's World Cup finals.

Italy had to come from behind to seal their place with two games to spare after former Lazio frontman Libor Kozak fired Czech Republic ahead after 19 minutes in Turin.

Giorgio Chellini headed the Azzurri level on 52 minutes, when Petr Cech failed to deal with a corner, before Mario Balotelli stroked home the winning penalty moments later.

Robin van Persie sent Holland through to Brazil with a second-half double in a 2-0 win over Andorra.

After Turkey beat Romania 2-0 in Bucharest earlier in the evening, the Dutch knew victory would be enough to confirm their place in the World Cup finals.

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Balo misses out

Mario Balotelli has withdrawn from the Italy squad ahead of Wednesday night's friendly meeting with Argentina after suffering a knee injury in training.

The AC Milan striker, who was forced to leave last month's Confederations Cup campaign in Brazil early with a leg injury, will be unable to line up against the South American nation at Rome's Stadio Olimpico in a game organised in deference to recently elected Pope Francis, who is Argentinian.

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