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Mancini’s training sessions are music to the ears

September 4, 2018
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Italian national soccer team's head coach Roberto Mancini leads a training session ahead of Friday's UEFA Nations League soccer match against Poland, at the Coverciano training center near Florence, Italy, Monday, Sept. 32018. (Claudio Giovannini/ANSA via AP)

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Italy coach Roberto Mancini is trying something new to motivate his players.

For the first time in Italy training sessions, music is being played from a speaker attached to a mobile phone.

“It’s a new thing. I’ve been here for three years and until now I’ve only heard it in the changing room,” Italy and AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma said on Tuesday.

“Yesterday, we trained with a bit of music, it seemed strange to me, and I asked the goalkeeping coach. He explained to me that Mancini likes working like this because it gives a bit of extra enthusiasm.”

The playlist for Monday’s session included the likes of Queen, Miley Cyrus, The Rolling Stones, and The Killers. Interestingly, there wasn’t a single Italian song played.

Mancini is trying everything as he tries to haul Italy out of its lowest point, after missing the World Cup for the first time in nearly six decades.

Italy hosts Poland in Bologna on Friday then visits Portugal three days later. They are Mancini’s first competitive matches in charge and the Azzurri’s first since failing to qualify for the World Cup last November.

Music is not the only new thing in the Italy training camp. Five players received their first callups, although 17-year-old Monaco forward Pietro Pellegri has pulled out with injury.

Mancini launched an appeal on Monday for Italian clubs to play Italians and to have the “courage” to use young players but Nicolo Barella believes it is up to them to prove they’re worth the risk.

“It is up to us who are playing to try to always improve more and raise the level while waiting for others to come through to give us a hand in the national team,” the 21-year-old Cagliari midfielder said.

“There are talented Italian youngsters, who are ready to take the step up. We just have to wait and have faith.”

Barella has been called up by Mancini before but has yet to play for the senior national team.

Fiorentina midfielder Marco Benassi agreed with Mancini, having worked under coaches who have given him the chance and others who have kept him sidelined.

“Mancini is right, you need courage to send youngsters onto the pitch,” the 23-year-old Benassi said. ”(Andrea) Stramaccioni had that when he gave me my debut at 18 with Inter.

“At Torino, I spent two months on the bench and so two years ago, I told myself there wasn’t any space for me, I don’t know if that was because of technique or age. However, I decided to change clubs and I was right.”

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