Mancini mulls Italy strike options with experimental side for USA friendly

Emmeline MOORE
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"A good draw on paper," said Italy coach Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini will try out an experimental side in Tuesday's friendly against the United States in Genk as the Italian coach searches for a solution to Italy's goalscoring problem after missing out on the Nations League knockout stages.

Saturday's goalless draw with Portugal at the San Siro was enough for the European champions advance to the semi-finals at Italy's expense, and Mancini's focus has turned towards Euro 2020 ahead of the qualifying draw in Dublin on December 2.

The ex-Manchester City boss said Sunday he wants to "see young players in action" against the United States.

Veteran Giorgio Chiellini has returned to club side Juventus and Lorenzo Insigne, Alessandro Florenzi, Jorginho, and Ciro Immobile were also released back to rejoin their respective clubs following and end to their Nations League campaign that was simultaneously frustrating and encouraging.

"Of course, there's a long way to go and we are working, trying to renew the national team with young players and a different tactical approach," Mancini told Italian television network Rai.

Nearly nine million people watched the game as the country embraces a younger, more vibrant Azzurri after last year's World Cup qualification disaster.

"Scoring goals is an important detail, but we played very well," added Mancini, whose side only scored two goals in their Group A3 campaign.

Since the former Manchester City and Inter Milan boss took over they have scored just seven in eight games but Nations League performances against Poland and Portugal have given hope for the future.

"We'll slowly sort out the attack ... we are a little unlucky in some situations, but the team is proving that it can compete at any level in the future and we can only get stronger from here."

- 'Bright future' -

One of Mancini's problems is that his top scorer is veteran defender Chiellini, who has scored eight goals in his 100 appearances for the national team.

The four-time world champions failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after being held to a goalless draw in the San Siro against Sweden last November.

And they missed chances to score against Portugal on Saturday.

"Now we still need to resolve that problem of scoring goals," continued Mancini.

"I don't think there's too much that needs doing, as in some situations it's purely about shooting 5cm one way or 10cm higher up."

Ninteen-year-old Juventus striker Moise Kean could play a role in Tuesday's game, along with Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali, 18, Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, 19, and Atalanta's 22-year-old defender Gianluca Mancini, who has scored in each of his last three league games.

"We need to get to know them better, to see them in action," said Mancini.

"I think there are many talented players out there, they just need to gain some experience, to ensure that we can have a bright future ahead of us."

Italy have a good record against the United States having lost just one in their 12 previous meetings.

That defeat was the most recent encounter, in Genoa back in February 2012, when Clint Dempsey's 54th minute strike lifted the United States to a 1-0 win.

In 2006, the USA finished with nine men but held Italy 1-1 in the group stage of the World Cup which the Italians went on to win.

US coach Dave Sarachan will be without midfielders Weston McKennie and Luca de la Torre from the side that lost 3-0 to England in Wembley on Thursday.

"With Italy, they are sort of in a rebuilding process, but are still one of the elite countries in world football and so there is no question about the quality challenge they will provide," said Sarachan.