By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Despite a strong second half of the season with Newcastle, Davide Santon missed out on a place in Italy's Euro 2012 squad - but will be cheering his country on during the tournament which starts this week.
The 21-year-old, who joined United last summer, has seven full caps for the Azzurri and established himself as the Magpies' first-choice left-back as Alan Pardew's side finished fifth in the Barclays Premier League last season.
Playing Europa League football next season would certainly boost the ex-Inter Milan defender's chances of returning to the national team fold, and he remains highly-rated in his home nation.
On Monday night, he captained Italy's under-21 side in a European Championship qualifier against the Republic of Ireland in Sligo - and has set his sights on a senior call-up for the World Cup in Brazil.
Before that, however, he's backing Cesare Prandelli's side in Poland and the Ukraine. Despite being drawn in the same group as reigning champions Spain, the Italians are one of the favourites for the competition and Santon will be watching events very closely.
"I certainly will be," he told nufc.co.uk. "The national team is very important in Italy.
"I would love to play for the senior team again - that is every player's dream."
He added: "I am not looking too far ahead but if I continue to play for Newcastle, and I have to play well, then hopefully I will be able to get more international caps.
"By the time the World Cup comes around I would love to be involved with the senior team."