Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been ruled out of the Azzurri's match against New Zealand due to a herniated disc in his back. The world's most expensive goalkeeper was substituted at half-time in Italy's 2010 FIFA World Cup™ opener against Paraguay due to the problem, with Federico Marchetti taking his place.
Marchetti now looks set to feature against the All Whites in Nelspruit on Sunday. "The hernia is small, but even a small hernia can cause great pain," said Italy's medical chief Professor Enrico Castellacci. "It's not easy to make a prognosis but it's a small margin and Buffon strongly wants to recuperate."
Italy are hoping Buffon will be fit to return later in the tournament. Professor Castellacci added: "There is a desire on Buffon's behalf to recuperate, a chance that we have no right to take away."
Andrea Pirlo is the Italian's other major injury concern, having come into the tournament with a calf problem. Castellacci had positive news on the AC Milan playmaker, however, revealing: "He has now been subjected to (an MRI scan), he is training and is running and things are going according to the schedule set out at the beginning.
"The objective was for him to return in the third game or the last 16 and he should be ready for (one of) those."