MILAN (AP) – Argentina-born forward Pablo Osvaldo said he has as much right to play for Italy as any other player in the Azzurri squad.
Some commentators have criticized the Roma striker's call-up for Italy, but Osvaldo insists he will give everything for his adopted country.
''I feel Italian,'' said Osvaldo. ''My family are Argentine, but my wife and children are Italian and it was here that I grew up as a footballer.
''I'm more Italian than several of those who have made a big deal of me putting on the Italy shirt. I have already sung the anthem when I played for the Under-21s, it's not a problem for me to sing it. And I don't think it's a lack of respect for anyone. Rather, I think it will please the Italians.''
Osvaldo was called up by coach Cesare Prandelli Wednesday, after injuries forced Mario Balotelli and Giampaolo Pazzini to withdraw from the squad.
The 25-year-old striker could make his debut Tuesday in Italy's European Championship qualifier against Northern Ireland, and he is keen to make his mark on the squad.
''I hope I won't be a flash in the pan for the national team,'' Osvaldo said. ''If Prandelli called me up it means he has confidence in me.
''It's true that there are a lot of strikers injured and that there was a bit of an emergency, but Prandelli called on me and I see that as a good sign.''
Italy has already qualified for next year's tournament as Group C winners.