Euro 2012: Why Italy Should Call Up Antonio Di Natale

Sal CacciatoreContributor IIApril 4, 2012

UDINE, ITALY - NOVEMBER 06:  Antonio Di Natale of Udinese Calcio celebrates after scoring his team's second team during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and AC Siena at Stadio Friuli on November 6, 2011 in Udine, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
Dino Panato/Getty Images

Antonio Di Natale of Udinese has been the top goal scorer in Serie A the past two seasons, and is currently second in the charts this campaign.

Despite his success on the club level, the striker has not been capped for Italy since the 2010 World Cup.

Manager Cesare Prandelli, who took the reigns of the national team after Italy flamed out of South Africa, has preferred younger strikers to the veteran Di Natale. With Euro 2012 only two months away, and injuries to key attackers looming over the team, this could change.

Football Italia reports that Prandelli is considering Di Natale for the squad, having recently visited Udine to request his release for a series of late April training sessions.

“He is a player who is enjoying an extraordinary run of consistent form," Prandelli told Udinese Channel according to the report, adding that he is considering Di Natale "very strongly."

Prandelli would be wise to pursue this course. Di Natale has scored 76 league goals since the start of the 2009/10 season, and has helped make Udinese one of Serie A's better squads. He thus represents a serious goal scoring option for a team that could be in need of one. 

One of Italy's major storylines heading into the Euros will be the health of strikers Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi, who have been out for months. While both players have reportedly returned to training recently, their statuses remain in doubt. 

Possible replacements include Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Alessandro Matri, who all have talent, yet also have minimal international experience.

At 34, Di Natale would bring a welcomed veteran presence to the position, while also bringing the versatility to play as a central striker, or on the outside if needed.

It should be said that Prandelli's efforts to infuse youth into the squad should be applauded, especially considering how an old Italy side frankly showed its age in South Africa. However, given the aforementioned injury problems along the Azzurri front line, the manger will not have the luxury of being so selective this summer.

Critics could also accurately contend that Di Natale has hardly replicated his club form for the national team. Still, this should by no means preclude his selection for the Euro squad, considering his consistently strong performances the past few seasons, as well as the dearth of experienced goal scorers available.

Italy fans should therefore hope that Prandelli's consideration of Di Natale culminates in a call-up for the striker this June.