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European champions Italy call up three newcomers for US friendlies

Luciano Spalletti on Friday called up three newcomers to his 28-man Italy squad for next week’s trip to the United States for friendlies against Venezuela and Ecuador in the build-up to their European title defence.

Torino defender Raoul Bellanova, 23, made the cut along with Hellas Verona midfielder Michael Folorunsho, 26, and 23-year-old Udinese striker Lorenzo Lucca, who has scored seven goals in Serie A.

Ex-Napoli coach Spalletti retained mostly the group who secured qualification for July’s Euro 2024 in Germany with notably six players from Serie A leaders Inter Milan.

Goal-scoring has been the weak point for 2021 European champions with Sassuolo’s Domenico Berardi also out with an Achilles tendon problem.

Genoa’s Argentina-born forward Mateo Retegui has been called up but Lazio striker Ciro Immobile, whose 57th and final cap goes back to September, has again bee overlooked.

Italy play Venezuela in Fort Lauderdale, Floria on March 21 and Ecuador three days later in New York.

The Azzurri are drawn in Group B in Euro 2024 from June 14-July 14 along with Spain, Croatia and Albania.

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