Italy's Giorgio Chiellini denies problem with Mario Balotelli

Giorgio Chiellini insists nobody in the Italy squad has a problem with Mario Balotelli returning to the fold, despite senior players criticising the Liverpool striker following the World Cup.

Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini has hit back at reports of a rift with Mario Balotelli, insisting nobody in the setup has a problem with the Liverpool striker returning to the fold.

Balotelli was called up for the first-time by Antonio Conte for Saturday's Euro 2016 qualifier against Croatia and the friendly versus Albania next Tuesday, having been dropped from the Azzurri manager’s first two squads.

The 24-year-old bore the brunt of the blame for the team’s disastrous World Cup campaign in Brazil, where they were dumped out of the group stages, with senior players taking issue with his attitude, but Chiellini foresees no issues arising moving forward.

“There was nothing to fix [with Balotelli]," the Juventus defender told reporters. "We decided to make a point only about the World Cup. We know it went badly.

"It's a new campaign, and you have to forget about the past, while remembering the desire to make up for what happened in this period.

"There was no confrontation, there was no need for one. The coach makes the decisions, we're a united group, who are focused on winning.

"I understand that for you [the media] it's important to know how many times [Balotelli] sneezed or went to the bathroom, but for us we only think about the team and about winning.

"And that counts for everyone, no matter who they are."

Italy currently sit second in Group H with three wins from as many games, trailing this weekend’s opponents Croatia on goal difference.

With Balotelli also enduring a poor start to his Liverpool career following a £16 million summer move from AC Milan, a few goals in the coming fixture would do his confidence the world of good.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch