Manuel Locatelli has withdrawn from Italy's Euro 2024 qualifying matches against North Macedonia and Ukraine on November 17 and 20, Italian coach Luciano Spalletti announced on Monday who summoned Manuel Lazzari. “Locatelli has returned” to his club, Spalletti declared at a press conference, without specifying the nature of the injury which forced the Juventus midfielder with 26 caps to forfeit.
This absence adds to those of AC Milan captain Davide Calabria, Naples goalkeeper Alex Meret and Atalanta defender Rafael Toloi, forced to withdraw at the end of the 12th day of the disputed Italian Championship this week-end. Spalletti, who called up Lazio defender Manuel Lazzari (3 selections) in the evening, has 26 players at his disposal while he had called up 29 on Friday.
The coach of the Nazionale also indicated that the “returner” Jorginho, who had not been called up since June 2023, “had stitches (stitches) placed in his skull during his team’s last match”. “We will have to be careful, but we will need him,” admitted the former Naples coach who then explained the reasons for the return of the midfielder of Brazilian origin (48 caps, 5 goals). “He was not called up in September and October because he played little with his club, but he always expressed his desire to be in this group. Now he plays more, he is captain of Arsenal, these are very positive signals which led us to recall him,” he explained.
He also returned to the summons of Nicolo Zaniolo (Aston Villa), heard in the investigation into illegal gaming and betting platforms, but who was not sanctioned unlike Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Fagioli. “He always said that he bet on what was authorized (poker and blackjack, Editor’s note). I asked the federation if I could summon him and they gave me the green light,” Spalletti explained.
Italy is 3rd in the standings in its group, six points behind England, already qualified, and three lengths behind Ukraine who have played one more match. She must collect four points against North Macedonia in Rome on Friday and Ukraine in Leverkusen (Germany) three days later to pocket her ticket for the German Euro and any defeat would be crippling.