Cristante, Gagliardini added to Italy squad as injury replacements

FLORENCE, Italy — Roma midfielders Daniele De Rossi and Lorenzo Pellegrini pulled out of the Italy squad on Monday for World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Albania.

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura called up midfielders Roberto Gagliardini and Bryan Cristante. It is a maiden call-up for Cristante.

The Atalanta midfielder confirmed that he was contacted by the Canadian Soccer Association about representing the national team, but ultimately decided to play for his birth country.

The federation announced that Pellegrini was injured on Sunday in a 2-0 win at AC Milan and was sent home from the Italy camp after tests. Ventura later revealed De Rossi will also head back to Rome.

Italy is facing somewhat of a crisis in midfield as Marco Verratti had already withdrawn with injury and been replaced by the uncapped Nicolo Barella.

The Azzurri host Macedonia in Turin on Friday and go to Tirana three days later for their final World Cup qualifier against Albania.

Italy is second in Europe Group G, three points behind Spain.