Rome, June 25 - AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli is set to arrive in Italy on Tuesday after being forced to abandon Italy's Confederations Cup squad by a thigh problem. The Azzurri's star striker suffered the injury in Saturday's 4-2 defeat to hosts Brazil in Italy's final group game. The national team's medical staff had ruled him out of Thursday's semi-final against Spain but they were initially hoping the 22-year-old might recover for Sunday's final if Italy make it through. But on Monday it was announced that the forward would play no further part in the tournament. "I feel like a loser, going like this," Balotelli said before he departed from Brazil. "I'd like to stay but we (Milan) have the Champions League preliminaries to prepare for and I have to get treatment. "Anyway, my teammates will do well even without me". Alberto Gilardino, who was part of Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning squad, is expected to take Balotelli's place in Italy's starting line-up against Spain.
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di Angelo Biscardi