FABIO BORINI admits his World Cup hopes were a key factor in his decision to join Sunderland on loan.
The Italian striker has been capped just once by his country - a 2012 friendly against the USA - yet was a surprise inclusion in the senior squad for last year’s European Championships.
Borini dropped back down to Under-21 level for the summer’s Euros and netted twice, including in the final, despite a campaign which had been hampered by injuries at Liverpool.
The 22-year-old realised his international chances would not be helped by being confined to a bit-part role at Liverpool this season and he hopes more regular first-team football at Sunderland can thrust him back into recognition in time for next summer’s World Cup.
Borini said: “My international hopes are always on my mind and it has been before.
“I went to the Euro’s two years ago when nobody expected it.
“And I expect myself to do well enough this season to go to the World Cup.
“I still have faith in my own ability because I proved in the Euros during the summer after a bad season with injuries that I can score goals.
“I came back after shoulder surgery and hadn’t played a full game, but I played three or four games in the Euros and scored two goals.
“That means my head is still strong and I still want to prove what I can do.”
Italy have already secured their place in Brazil after sealing top spot in qualification group B with victory over the Czech Republic earlier this month.
And Borini is not the only Sunderland player hoping to be a part of the Italian squad, with Emanuele Giaccherini starting the last qualifier against the Czechs.
Sunderland fans are yet to see the best of Giaccherini after the winger’s £6.5million summer switch from Juventus.
But former Chelsea youngster Borini hopes he can pass on his experience of English football to the 28-year-old.
“It’s not a really, really big advantage playing in England before, because I’ve not had a full season of playing,” added Borini.
“But I know the mentality here.
“I know that a game in England is never dead and that makes a difference during a long season.
“I hope I can help players like Giaccherini and the other overseas players to get that mentality.”