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Giorgio Chiellini, Mario Balotelli make Italy's Nations League squad

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Why no one wanted Mario Balotelli (2:15)

ESPN FC's Julien Laurens and Gab Marcotti explain why Mario Balotelli's hopes of returning to Serie A this summer were dashed. (2:15)

Italy coach Roberto Mancini has opted for a blend of youth and experience in his squad for the Nations League.

Giorgio Chiellini, who last wore the shirt of his country in their ill-fated World Cup playoff against Sweden, returns and will captain the side against Poland at Bologna's Stadio Dell'Ara on Friday, while Mario Balotelli, one of Italy's most-capped players, is also in.

Balotelli was also part of Mancini's first squad selection in May, although he has not featured in a competitive game for Italy since the 2014 World Cup.

At the other end of the spectrum, Monaco forward Pietro Pellegri, 17, has earned his first call, as has Nicolo Zaniolo, who joined Roma from Inter Milan this summer but has yet to make an appearance in Serie A.

Stefano Vecchi, Zaniolo's former Inter youth team coach, is not surprised that Mancini has spotted his talent already.

"I think Mancini's seen him in the under-19s and with us in the youth team and now he wants to see him in person," Vecchi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "For me, he's a quality midfielder who also runs a lot like a [Steven] Gerrard or a [Frank] Lampard. He needs to believe in himself more and show continuity in training.

"Very few players get called up to the national team without having ever played in Serie A, but I'm not surprised that it's happened with Nicolo because he has technical and physical potential. He's young in terms of his age, but he's ahead of his generation."

UEFA Nations League full draw
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Schedule: Sep. 6 | Sep. 7 | Sep. 8 | Sep. 9 | Sep. 10 | Sep. 11

Alongside Zaniolo and Pellegri, Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno, SPAL defender Manuel Lazzari and Fiorentina's Cristiano Biraghi have also received their first Italy calls.

AC Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma is set to be named as No. 1 with Paris Saint-Germain's Gianluigi Buffon no longer under consideration for national team duty, with Juventus' Mattia Perin and Torino's Salvatore Siragu the other candidates.

Chelsea trio Emerson Palmieri, Davide Zappacosta and Jorginho are the only other three foreign-based players in addition to Balotelli and Pellegri.

There is no room, however, for Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi. He has been overlooked with his Roma teammates Bryan Cristante and Lorenzo Pellegrini selected.

After hosting Poland, Italy travel to Portugal on Monday. The winners of the group have already been selected by UEFA as the hosts for the Nations League finals in June.

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Juventus), Salvatore Siragu (Torino)

Defenders: Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Mattia Caldara (AC Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Genoa), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea), Manuel Lazzari (Spal), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea).

Midfielders: Nicolo Barella (Cagliari), Marco Benassi (Fiorentina), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Roberto Gagliardini (Inter Milan), Jorginho (Chelsea), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Nice), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Pietro Pellegri (Monaco), Simone Zaza (Torino).