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 By Ben Gladwell

MLS play cost Andrea Pirlo, Sebastian Giovinco their Italy chance - Conte

Italy coach Antonio Conte said that he left Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco out of his squad of 30 players leading up to Euro 2016 because they opted to play Major League Soccer. 

Former AC Milan and Juventus midfielder Pirlo was a surprise omission, having been convinced by Conte to reassess his plan to retire after the 2014 World Cup.

Pirlo, 37, played a part in Italy qualifying for Euro 2016, but he has not featured since playing in the 1-0 win over Malta last September, and Conte admitted that the player's decision to join New York City FC from Juventus last summer affected his national team chances.

"When you make a certain choice and go to play in certain leagues, you do so taking it into account that they could pay the consequences from a footballing viewpoint," Conte said at a news conference on Tuesday, the day after naming 30 players he will eventually cut down to 23 by the end of the month.

"I called him and we've spoken about it. I needed to discuss it with him and we've had people out there for a week to take a look at him and Giovinco. We've made technical choices and nothing has been done just at random."

Pirlo was left out, even though Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti have both been ruled out injured. Riccardo Montolivo and Thiago Motta are also doubts, although both have the next few days to prove their fitness to the Italy coach before he makes up his mind which 23 players to take with him to France.

He admitted on Tuesday he is close to knowing who will be joining him on a plane to Montpellier on June 8, but at the same time he did not want to name names.

"The important thing is we have a plan and we need to stick to this," he said. "First we lost Verratti and Marchisio, now we've got Motta and Montolivo, but we've got to know how to overcome these circumstances.

"I've only got a few doubts. Today, I've got 24 or 25 in my mind. I already know how things are going to look. We'll assess Motta and Montolivo and if they are not available these days, then this could have an influence.

"There are 30 of us and we need to skim this down further. We picked this number for a mixture of injuries and technical choices. I picked with my mind, thinking of who are the best players at this moment in time.

"I know very well that it's hard to please everybody, but I chose according to my beliefs, based on these two years."

While he would have preferred to have more players to choose from, Conte said he hopes things will take a turn for the better before it is too late.

"I ask my players to be dreamers," he said. "You've always got to have something beautiful to dream about. We might not be very lucky right now, but let's hope this turns in our favour during the tournament."

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