Balotelli ruled out for Azzurri

Italy have lost enigmatic striker Mario Balotelli for their Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia on Friday with a knee injury.The Manchester City player hurt his right knee – on which he had surgery last September – just 13 minutes into a practice match against an Italy Under-18 side on Tuesday.

After a series of tests, team doctor Enrico Castellacci said 20-year-old Balotelli ‘would not have recovered in time for Friday’s game’.

The former Inter Milan player will also sit out next Tuesday’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Liege.

“To try to get him fit for the friendly against the Republic of Ireland would have been a risk not worth taking,” Dr Castellacci said.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is also without Inter’s Thiago Motta, who injured his leg earlier this week.