Fabio Borini is hoping a starring performance at Wembley can earn him a trip to the World Cup finals.
The forward’s only Italy cap came in a February 2012 friendly against the United States but despite being picked for that year’s European Championships, he has not figured since.
But the man on a season-long loan from Liverpool has not given up hope of playing in Brazil this summer.
“I wanted to succeed this season because I want to go to the World Cup,” said Borini, who has scored five goals this season.
“I have not heard anything from Italy. I am only focused on myself at the moment.
“I have to keep scoring goals. It will help if we do well in the big games, both in the cups and in the Premier League. The national team coach (Cesare Prandelli) will look for the better players and at the bigger teams in every country.
“That’s how it works. That’s why if we can stay up, score goals then he will notice.
“There has always been a chance for me. If I score goals there is a chance. You need to score goals to be in there. It’s not changed. I wanted to score my goals and prove myself this season and I want to continue.”
Borini has been Sunderland’s best attacking player this season, though in truth that is somewhat faint praise. That he has been keeping Italy regular Emanuele Giaccherini out of the side ought to help his case, although it is down the middle, rather than out wide, that he believes he has the best chance.
With Jozy Altidore at his most hapless against Arsenal at the weekend, Steven Fletcher still struggling to overcome an Achilles problem, Ignacio Scocco not yet up to speed after his January arrival and Leeds United reportedly interested in taking Connor Wickham on loan, Borini could even get his big chance against Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday.
“I did well at the (2012 European) Under-21 Championships because I felt comfortable,” he explained. “That was the best team I ever played with as an environment. That’s why I played very well after a season-long injury. I felt at home.
“I played as one of two up front, and scored two in three games.”
Even though another knee injury to Giuseppe Rossi has ruled the former Newcastle United loanee out of the tournament, competition for places is fierce.
“There is (Mario) Balotelli, Rossi, who is injured, and they are the two sure of a place. Then there is (Alberto) Gilardino, (Dani) Osvaldo, (Luca) Toni, (Alessio) Cerci, (Lorenzo) Insigne maybe,” said Borini. “I am really upset for Rossi. He is one of the best I have ever seen. He is a very good boy.
“To see a player who could play get injured, on the same knee, I wish him all the best. He deserves to be at the World Cup. I know how it feels to be out after a big operation. He has come back from injury before and become top scorer.
“Lately my role seems like a utility player but my (preferred) role is a central striker role, being closer to the goal and towards goal rather than in a straight line on the wing. If I’m playing on the wing I try to improve every game even if it is not my position.”
Meanwhile, dates have been set for two of Sunderland’s four outstanding fixtures. The FA Cup quarter-final at Hull City will kick-off at 1.30pm a week on Sunday, so it can be shown live on ITV.
The Premier League match against Liverpool, which had been due for that weekend, has been moved to Wednesday, 26 March at 8pm.
The games against West Bromwich Albion (home) and Manchester City (away) are still to be rearranged.