Rio de Janeiro, June 25 (IANS) Italy forward Mario Balotelli has been sent back home after he was ruled out of the rest of the Confederations Cup with a thigh injury.
The 22-year-old took the flight back home after it was revealed that he would not get fit even if Itlay make the final slated for Sunday, reports Xinhua.
Balotelli strained his left quadriceps during Italy's 4-2 defeat to Brazil in Salvador Saturday.
Italy team doctor Enrico Castellacci had already stated Balotelli would miss Thursday's semifinal against Spain in Fortaleza.
"The player cannot recover between now and the final on Sunday. We prefer not to take any risks," Castellacci said.
Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli will now look to Alberto Gilardino, Sebastian Giovinco or Stephan El Shaarawy to replace the AC Milan star.
"Without Mario, we need to work even more at a collective level," Prandelli said.
"We'll have players with different characteristics, but the aim is to make the team even more compact."
Playmaker Andrea Pirlo is in doubt for the match against the world champions after missing the Brazil clash with a calf injury.
Thursday's duel at the Castelao stadium will be a repeat of the Euro 2012 final, which Spain won 4-0.