Rome: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli will have to make do without the services of Mario Balotelli for Wednesday's international friendly against Argentina.
The AC Milan striker picked up a knee problem in training this week and Italy's football association (FIGC) confirmed he had departed the squad following the side's meeting with Pope Francis.
"Mario Balotelli will not play in the Italy-Argentina game," the FIGC said in a statement on their website.
"The Azzurri attacker, who had stopped during a light workout due to pain in his knee, has not recovered from his injury and gone back home.
"Balotelli left Rome after the audience at the Vatican with Pope Francis."
National team doctor Enrico Castellacci had suggested that Balotelli could miss the match versus the South Americans earlier on Tuesday.
"He has a minor problem with his right knee, the one that he's undergone surgery on in the past and is occasionally a bit swollen," Castellacci told the official FIGC website.
"There's some fluid in his knee, but nothing to worry about it. He left the pitch for precautionary measures."
Wednesday's encounter will take place in Rome.