Italy goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon has been ruled out of Gli Azzurri's FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against Denmark after failing a late fitness test, the Italian football federation (FIGC) have announced.

Buffon had been hopeful of shaking off an adductor muscle injury in time for Tuesday's match at the San Siro in Milan but will play no part in the match after tests showed he had not recovered sufficiently.

"Gianluigi Buffon will not play tonight against Denmark," read a statement by the FIGC. "The Italy captain has been struggling with a left adductor muscle strain and did not pass the fitness test this morning."

Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis is expected to step in for Buffon to make what would be only his sixth appearance, having been under the Juventus keeper's shadow since making his debut in 2005.

The Italy captain has been struggling with a left adductor muscle strain and did not pass the fitness test this morning.

FIGC statement.

Speculation about Buffon's role in the match has been rife since he picked up the injury in the 3-1 away win over Armenia on Friday, mainly because of Juventus's upcoming Serie A fixture.

Juve play host to Napoli on Saturday, with the chance to go clear at the top of the table at stake for either side.They are the only unbeaten sides in the league so far and both have 19 points as well as six wins and a draw to their name respectively.

Although Juve have scored a table-topping 17 goals so far, their defence is the second stingiest in the league having conceded only four goals. Napoli have conceded only three.

The extra rest afforded to Buffon will raise hopes he will be fit in time for Saturday's game at the Juventus stadium. His absence would be a psychological blow to the club and give Napoli belief they can cause an upset.

Italy go into Tuesday's match against Denmark at the San Siro top of Group B with a two-point advantage on Bulgaria after three of their ten qualifiers.