AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli back to stake claim


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AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli came off the bench late in his side’s 2-0 home win over Fiorentina on Sunday to make his return to action following groin surgery.

On loan from Liverpool, the 25-year-old had not been seen since September and he will be hoping he is over his injury as he looks to stake a claim for a place in Italy’s Euro 2016 squad.

The former Manchester City hitman is competing with the likes of Graziano Pelle, Fabio Quagliarella, Ciro Immobile and Sebastian Giovinco among others.

Balotelli has won 33 caps to date although he needs to find his best form if he is to represent the Azzurri for the third major tournament in a row, having been in the squad for Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

Italy, who have been drawn alongside Belgium, Sweden and Republic of Ireland in Group E for Euro 2016, were undefeated during qualifying and boasted a record of seven wins from 10 games.

However, Italy have not won the European Championship since 1968 when they hosted the tournament which was contested by just four nations, although they did make the final four years ago only to be beaten 4-0 by Spain in Kiev.

Italy kick off their Euro 2016 campaign on June 13 against Belgium and they are 2.88 to make a winning start.

The Belgians are 2.30 to secure victory while the draw is at 3.10.

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