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Starlet Zaniolo returns to Euro kings Italy for World Cup qualifiers

Rising star Nicolo Zaniolo has been recalled to the Italy squad for the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers as the Azzurri return to action after triumph at Euro 2020.

Roberto Mancini has named a 34-man squad for the three qualifiers against Bulgaria, Switzerland and Lithuania as Italy look to continue their perfect start to Group C, which they top with nine points after their first three games.

Mancini has named every member of the squad that took Italy to penalty shootout glory at Wembley last month apart from Roma’s Leonardo Spinazzola, who misses out due to the Achilles injury which ended his Euro during the quarter-final win over Belgium.

Roma midfielder Zaniolo has long been tipped as a special talent in Italy but serious injuries to both his knees have hampered the 22-year-old’s burgeoning career and meant he missed the Euro.

He has returned to regular action this season under Jose Mourinho and on Thursday scored his first goal since July last year when he netted Roma’s second in the 3-0 win over Trabzonspor, which put the capital club into the Europa Conference League group stage.

Also in the squad is striker Moise Kean, who could be returning to Juventus from Everton after Cristiano Ronaldo departed for Manchester United on Friday, while Sassuolo forward Gianluca Scamacca gets his first call up with the national team.

Italy will greet home fans for the first time as European champions against Bulgaria in Florence on Thursday, before travelling to Basel to face Switzerland on September 5 and hosting Lithuania in Reggio Emilia three days later.

Italy’s 34-man squad for 2022 World Cup qualifiers:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Pierluigi Gollini (Tottenham/ENG), Alex Meret (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Genoa) 

Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter Milan), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson Palmieri (Lyon), Alessandro Florenzi (AC Milan), Manuel Lazzari (Lazio), Gianluca Mancini (Roma), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta)

Midfielders: Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan), Gaetano Castrovilli (Fiorentina), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea/ENG), Manuel Locatelli (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Stefano Sensi (Inter Milan), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)

Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Moise Kean (Everton), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo), Gianluca Scamacca (Sassuolo)

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