29.08.2015 22:05 h

Giovinco in as Conte names Italy squad

Sebastian Giovinco (r)
Sebastian Giovinco (r)

Toronto FC striker Sebastian Giovinco was rewarded for his positive start to life in the MLS with a call-up to Italy's squad for upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers at home to Malta and Bulgaria.

Giovinco signed for the Major Soccer League outfit after last season and has become an instant hit in North America's top flight.

Italy coach Antonio Conte, meanwhile, kept Mario Balotelli out of his squad.

Liverpool striker Balotelli, who has not played for the Azzurri since their disastrous 2014 World Cup campaign in Brazil, has returned to AC Milan on loan for the season in a bid to resurrect his career and win a place in the Italy squad ahead of next summer's competition in France.

Italy, who sit second in their qualifying table, one point behind leaders Croatia, host Malta in Florence on September 3 and then Bulgaria three days later in Palermo.

Croatia lead Group H on 14 points from four wins and two draws so far but they have been deducted a point following a 1-1 draw with Italy in June after a swastika was scrawled on the pitch before the fixture in Zagreb.

Italy squad for Euro 2016 qualifiers against Malta and Bulgaria:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Daniele Padelli (Torino), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA)

Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Sassuolo), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Zenit/RUS), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter)

Midfielders: Andrea Bertolacci (AC Milan), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC), Roberto Soriano (Sampdoria), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA)

Forwards: Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Stephan El Shaarawy (Monaco/FRA), Eder (Sampdoria), Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli), Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto/CAN), Ciro Immobile (Sevilla/ESP), Graziano Pelle (Southampton/ENG), Franco Vazquez (Palermo), Simone Zaza (Juventus)