Italy's preparations for their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifiers against Bulgaria and Montenegro have been disrupted by injuries to key players, but coach Marcello Lippi remains confident that they can build on their opening wins.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been ruled out for a month with a back problem, whilst his Juventus team-mate, midfielder Mauro Camoranesi needs 20 days to recover from a tear in his right thigh.
As such Lippi will continue the team's evolution that he began when retaking the reigns in July and has no fears over filling the gap left by Camoranesi, with either Udinese winger Simone Pepe or Villarreal's ex-Manchester United forward Giuseppe Rossi likely to benefit.
Lippi said: "Rossi is ready to play. He is quick, clever and complete. He can play as the main and support striker, out wide, in the middle and has experience from his time at Manchester United. Pepe hugs the line, gives us space, covers, attacks, scores goals and is an alternative to Camoranesi. I wanted to call him up in September."
Palermo goalkeeper Marco Amelia is set to win his fifth cap in place of the injured Buffon, having been at the other end of the pitch when Buffon injured his back last Sunday and he realises that with Buffon in front of him, the chance to add to his appearances doesn't come very often.
"I know my role with Italy. With Buffon in front of me I have to stay calm, train well and make sure I'm ready when the chance comes and make the most of the opportunity," he said.
One player who will be expected to take on greater responsibility with so many new faces is central midfielder Danielle De Rossi, who is expected to line up alongside AC Milan's Gennaro Gattuso in a fearsome midfield pairing. The Roma player scored both goals in the victory over Georgia and said that fellow east Europeans Bulgaria, who they face in Sofia on Saturday, and Montenegro, who are the visitors in Lecce next Wednesday, cannot be underestimated either.
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"Montenegro and Bulgaria have important players in the biggest leagues in Europe," he said. "But this time it is not enough to just win, but we need to play with a better style of play than in the last two games."