It has been confirmed that Gianluigi Buffon won’t play for Italy when they face England late tonight. He twisted an ankle during training and hobbled off, unable to complete training.
Earlier manager Cesare Prandelli was optimistic that his captain and veteran goalkeeper will be available but now it seems the injury is more serious than expected.
Buffon was absent from his scheduled appearance at the pre-match news conference at the Arena Amazonia.
Antonio Candreva instead sat alongside head coach Cesare Prandelli, who confirmed Buffon had picked up an ankle knock during training on the eve of the Group D clash.
"He twisted his ankle very lightly," Prandelli said.
"It was a very, very light ankle twist. He is receiving therapy at the moment, but it is nothing serious."
Buffon's absence would certainly be a big blow to an Italy side already without full-back Mattia de Sciglio through injury.
Italy's reserve goalkeepers are Salvatore Sirigu of Paris Saint-Germain and Mattia Perin of Genoa. Sirigu impressed in a 0-0 draw with Ireland two weeks ago in a warm-up match and has Champions League experience with PSG.
Antonio Mirante was brought to Brazil as a fourth goalkeeper in case of injury but was sent home earlier Friday.
It is hardly the ideal preparation for a match against an England side which Prandelli knows has the ability to hurt them on the attack.
"England have personality and psychological strength," he said.
"They are very good at running, they are a fast team.
"The attackers have technical skills and are able to use the space available to them in the best way, so we will have to be very careful and we will have to try to control the midfield. That is going to be the key."
If Buffon is anything other than 100 per cent fit, it will hurt Italy. The 36-year-old Juventus goalkeeper is the country’s most-capped footballer of all time, has been first-choice in goal for nearly 15 years and won the World Cup in 2006.Published 14 Jun 2014, 16:02 IST