Juventus forward Alessandro Del Piero has told Italy boss Marcello Lippi he would love to be part of next year's FIFA World Cup™ squad.

Del Piero has missed almost the entire season with various injuries and, though he is now nearing full fitness, is not part of the Italy squad which will face Holland and Sweden over the next five days.

Nevertheless, Del Piero still fancies a trip to South Africa next summer.

"Me, in South Africa? I have already been there, but I would like to go back there. Having been a part of the Italy squad at the beginning, I still feel like I'm part of it."

Del Piero must hope that Lippi also considers him part of the squad as the coach said earlier this week it would be "difficult" for anyone from the outside to force their way in.

There have been repeated calls for Antonio Cassano to be handed another chance with the national team, while Francesco Totti and Alessandro Nesta - who both announced their international retirement after the Azzurri won the tournament in Germany three years ago - also have their champions.

Del Piero has not been a part of the Italy squad since last September's qualifier against Georgia. Meanwhile, Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was back in training today with the current Azzurri squad after overcoming the illness which kept him in the team hotel yesterday.

Giuseppe Rossi also joined up with the squad today after playing for Villarreal in the Copa del Rey last night.

Another man in camp today was Daniele De Rossi, the Roma midfielder who fractured his cheekbone at the weekend in a challenge with Inter Milan's Patrick Vieira.

De Rossi underwent surgery yesterday and is expected to be out of action for around three weeks, but today had lunch with his international team-mates.