Italy boss Giampiero Ventura to meet Mario Balotelli before next matches

Italy coach Giampiero Ventura has said he will talk to Nice striker Mario Balotelli before he selects his next squad in March.

Balotelli's outstanding form for the Ligue 1 club has brought calls for him to return to the Italy team for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.

But although Ventura has overlooked the former Manchester City and Liverpool forward for his last two squads, he said the door was not closed to him.

"Balotelli's not a player for a training camp -- we're talking about a player who has played in a World Cup," he told a news conference at the conclusion of a two-day get together with players under consideration for the national team.

"I want to talk to him. Between now and March I will have the time to go and see him personally. Once he's worked on himself, he will be considered like everybody else."

Balotelli has scored six goals in as many Ligue 1 appearances this season, helping Nice reach the top of the table.

He was called up only once during Antonio Conte's two-year reign as Italy coach, but did not feature under his management.