Mario Balotelli is in doubt to play the second match of the League of Nations against Portugal in Lisbon on Monday, according to press reports on Saturday. The Nice striker was harshly criticized for his performance in his first match of the competition for Italy since the 2014 World Cup, a 1-1 draw against Poland on Friday. Balotelli limped off after an hour before Chelsea midfielder Jorginho rescued a point for the Azzurri in Bologna. And the 28-year-old forward did not participate in a full training session on Saturday after undergoing tests. Mancini confirmed that he was struggling to stay in shape, with the striker applying an ice pack on his thigh after being replaced on Friday.
"His fitness levels are a problem at the moment," Mancini told Rai Sport.
Balotelli lacked time for the match as a result of a contractual dispute with the Ligue 1 club in Nice after a planned move in Marseille did not materialize.
"I will have to talk a lot with him and he must improve a lot," Mancini said.
"Mario has to find the way.
"I'm disappointed because we did not win, we were not disappointed by any player."
Mancini, former manager of Balotelli at Inter Milan and Manchester City, recalled the striker after taking over as national coach last May.
Balotelli played in three friendlies in June, scoring in his 2-1 friendly debut over Saudi Arabia.
Mancini said he would make some changes for the trip to Portugal while continuing to rebuild Italy after his World Cup qualifying fiasco.
"We need to get a better result than this," Mancini added.
"We could also change the system, like some players."
Meanwhile, Alessandro Costacurta, the deputy commissar of the Italian Football Federation praised what Mancini was achieving.
"Since Roberto arrived, there has been a growing enthusiasm and it brought a great breath of fresh air after a difficult period.
"As Mancini said yesterday (Friday), everyone should have more courage to perhaps give Balotelli a better service and then he can meet the objectives."