Juventus defender Mattia De Sciglio has been called up to the Italy squad for the upcoming World Cup playoffs as a replacement for the injured Giovanni Di Lorenzo.
Di Lorenzo, who was a regular for Roberto Mancini’s side during their Euros triumph last summer, sprained his knee in Napoli’s 2-1 victory over Udinese on Saturday and has been forced to pull out as a result.
The Azzurri have a difficult route to Qatar after they failed to secure automatic qualification last autumn. A poor end to the campaign saw them finish behind Switzerland in the group and thrust them into the playoffs, where they’ll likely face Portugal for a place at the World Cup later this year (presuming they beat North Macedonia and Portugal overcome Turkey).
Mattia De Sciglio earns Italy call-up following Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s injury
De Sciglio has undoubtedly exceeded expectations on his return to Juventus. Highly regarded by Massimiliano Allegri, the reliable full-back has manifested his versatility for the Bianconeri this season.
He has played as both a right- and left-back this term, with much of his success coming off the left. In 24 appearances, De Sciglio has notched three assists; adding to his tally against Salernitana on Sunday when his pinpoint cross was nodded home by Dusan Vlahovic.
Despite De Sciglio’s rather impressive campaign, it was a surprise to see Mancini opt for the 29-year-old over AC Milan’s Davide Calabria, who’s been a feature of the Azzurri manager’s squads in recent years.
De Sciglio, who has 39 international caps and was particularly admired by Antonio Conte during his time in charge, hasn’t earned a call up to the national team since 2019. His last appearance came as a substitute in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Bosnia in June of that year.
Nevertheless, the Juventus full-back has a good chance of adding to his caps during this break with Alessandro Florenzi being the only other recognised right-back in Mancini’s squad. De Sciglio will join up with his club teammates Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Manuel Locatelli ahead of the playoff semi-final against North Macedonia on 24 March.