- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) - Forward Pablo Osvaldo and midfielder Thiago Motta have been ruled out of Italy’s European Championship qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Malta due to thigh injuries.

Italy hosts Azerbaijan in Palermo on Friday then makes a short trip to visit Malta on Monday.

Having won its opening qualifier in Norway last month, Italy is tied for the Group H lead with Bulgaria and Croatia.

Without Osvaldo, the remaining forwards are the likely starting pair of Ciro Immobile and Simone Zaza plus Mattia Destro and Graziano Pelle, who received his first call-up.

Mario Balotelli was not called up.

In midfield, coach Antonio Conte was already without Daniele De Rossi, who is working his way back from a torn left calf muscle.

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