MILAN (Reuters) - Brazilian-born midfielder Jorginho was surprisingly included in Italy’s squad on Saturday for their World Cup qualifying playoff against Sweden while forward Simone Zaza was recalled after a year-long absence.
Jorginho, who was born in Brazil of Italian heritage and moved to Italy during his childhood, had not been picked since Gian Piero Ventura took over as coach following Euro 2016.
Full name Jorge Luiz Frello Filho, the Napoli player’s only two appearances for Italy so far have been in friendlies, meaning that he would still be eligible to switch allegiance if Brazil were to call him up.
Under FIFA rules, a player is only locked into a national team once they have played a competitive senior international.
Zaza was called up for the first time since November last year after re-finding his form at Valencia where he has scored nine goals in 11 league games this season.
Italy, whose last failure to qualify for the World Cup was in 1958, were forced into the playoffs after finishing second in their qualifying group behind Spain.
They visit Sweden on Nov. 10 with the return in Milan three days later in what is likely to be a nerve-wracking tie for the four-times world champions.
Midfielders Marco Verratti and Daniele De Rossi and forward Andrea Belotti, who missed last month’s qualifiers against Macedonia and Albania through injury, were included.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Pritha Sarkar