Mario Balotelli left out of Italy squad again, Graziano Pelle included

On the day he was left out of Liverpool's starting XI against West Brom, Mario Balotelli was also omitted from the Italy squad for the second month running, although there was room for Southampton striker Graziano Pelle.

After being overlooked by new Italy coach Antonio Conte for a friendly with Netherlands and a Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway in September, Balotelli's name did not figure among the 26 that Conte revealed on Saturday evening as his choices for the upcoming ties against Azerbaijan and Malta.

Conte instead added just two new names to his selection from September which saw Sassuolo's Simone Zaza form a partnership with Borussia Dortmund's Ciro Immobile, in the injury-enforced absence of Giuseppe Rossi, who misses out again.

The new face in Conte's attack is Pelle, who has been in excellent form for the Saints this season and gives the Italy coach a different option with his height and aerial ability.

Former Southampton forward Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, now with Inter Milan, is also included again, together with Roma's Mattia Destro. Juventus' Sebastian Giovinco, who found little room under Conte at the Bianconeri, is also included for the second month running.

In defence, Empoli's Daniele Rugani has been called up for the first time. The 20-year-old was left out of Italy's under-21 squad for their European Championship playoff against Slovakia to allow him to join the senior squad.

Meanwhile, AC Milan's Giacomo Bonaventura is back for the first time since May 2013.

Conte's squad will meet at the Italian Football Federation's training headquarters in Coverciano on Sunday evening to commence preparations for Friday's clash with Azerbaijan in Palermo. Three days later, they travel to face a Malta side coached by the former assistant to ex-Azzurri boss Giovanni Trapattoni, Pietro Ghedin.

Italy squad:

Goakeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain).

Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (Juventus), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan), Daniele Rugani (Empoli).

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Andrea Poli (AC Milan), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).

Forwards: Mattia Destro (Roma), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Borussia Dortmund), Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Inter Milan), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Sassuolo).