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Antonio Conte excited by 'Premier League star' Graziano Pelle

Italy coach Antonio Conte cannot wait to see how the uncapped Southampton striker Graziano Pelle performs on international duty.

Italy boss Antonio Conte has claimed that Graziano Pelle is a "star of the Premier League" and cannot wait to see how the Southampton striker performs on the international stage.

Having struck five times in all competitions thus far, the Italian saw his prolific early-season form for the Saints rewarded with a call-up to the Azzurri at the weekend.

Pelle, 29, arrived in England on the back of a goal-laden spell with Feyenoord, and Conte is excited about how he performs in their upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers with Azerbaijan and Malta.

"Graziano represents what I've always said. Meritocracy leads to a place in the national team for a player who in two years has scored 50 goals," he told reporters.

"Today he is becoming a star in the Premier League after an adventure in Holland.

"I am curious to see him from close quarters in order to understand if he can help us. He deserved this call-up from all points of view."

Pelle - still uncapped at senior level - described the call-up as a "dream come true" recently.

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Graziano Pelle of Southampton celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on September 13, 2014
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