30 June 2013 03:19

Stephan El Shaarawy, Cesare Prandelli - Italy
The 55-year-old believes the AC Milan star is mentally exhausted and cast doubt over whether he will start for the Azzurri in Sunday’s contest

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli says Stephan El Shaarawy “needs to show more character” and may not start in the Confederations Cup third-place play-off against Uruguay.

The AC Milan forward has featured just once in the tournament – in the 4-2 defeat to Brazil – and watched on from the bench as the Azzurri were beaten 7-6 on penalties in the semi-final clash with Spain.

And Prandelli has voiced his concerns over the 20-year-old’s mentality and cast doubt over his involvement on Sunday, despite Mario Balotelli’s absence and concerns over Alberto Gilardino’s fitness.

“I’m convinced this experience has been a good one for him,” Prandelli said to reporters. “He needs more character. I talked to him in Coverciano and he was mentally exhausted.

“We will evaluate him tomorrow and decide whether he can start at the final moment.”

Uruguay were beaten 2-1 by Brazil in their last four tie, but the 53-year-old coach retains the utmost respect for his side’s next opponents and highlighted their attacking talents as their greatest strength.

He added: “Uruguay have great quality and an extraordinary attack. We hope to add consistency to our game plan by gaining experience against a team that is second to none tempermentally.

“We respect and admire their spirit.”

The Azzurri‘s semi-final defeat to Spain came at a high cost, with Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio joining Andrea Barzagli and Balotelli on the sidelines, leading Prandelli to note the need for his side to improve physically ahead of World Cup 2014.

He said: “This Confederations Cup has taught us we need to be on top of our game physically for next year’s World Cup.”

“We are struggling with recovering players from injury. It would help to gather them once or twice in a season and work with them. People have been running near the brink all year.

“It’s good that if we are physically fit for the World Cup, that we can put pressure on any opponent if we use the right tactics. We must bring home the knowledge that it all depends on us and our approach.

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