Italy coach Donadoni to test Del Piero, Cassano

Rome, May 29:

Alessandro Del Piero and Antonio Cassano were at risk of being left off Italy’s team a few months ago. Now, coach Roberto Donadoni is trying to fit them both into the starting lineup.

Friday’s European Championship warmup against Belgium in Florence is the first such opportunity. “I haven’t decided anything, but in my idea of a three-man attack, I definitely see Del Piero on the left and Cassano on the right, although Cassano can also play on the opposite side,” Donadoni said. “We’ll try things out against Belgium.”

Luca Toni will undoubtedly be Italy’s centerforward. Del Piero and Cassano

are competing with Antonio Di Natale and Mauro Camoranesi for playing time.

Del Piero was left off Italy’s roster for recent friendlies after issuing an ultimatum that he would not play a wing role, preferring the center. But Donadoni could not ignore it when the Juventus captain led Serie A with 21 goals, matching the best output of his career.

In March, Cassano strengthened his reputation as a troublemaker when he was banned for five Serie A matches for throwing his jersey at the referee and threatening him. The move was expected to cost Cassano a spot on Italy’s squad, but Donadoni has an apparent weak spot for the Sampdoria forward and included him to the surprise of some.

Italy’s defense seems set, with captain Fabio Cannavaro and Marco Materazzi between Christian Panucci at right back and Gianluca Zambrotta on the left flank. Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini are the likely midfield set, with Daniele De Rossi also a possible starter.