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Apr 9, 2014

Buffon tips Scuffet, 17, for World Cup

Italy No. 1 Gianluigi Buffon believes that 17-year-old Udinese goalkeeper Simone Scuffet is worthy of a place with the Azzurri at this summer's World Cup finals in Brazil.

Scuffet turns 18 years old less than two weeks before the start of the World Cup.
Scuffet turns 18 years old less than two weeks before the start of the World Cup.

Scuffet made his Serie A debut in the 2-0 win at Bologna on Feb. 1 -- starting in place of the injured Zeljko Brkic -- and has been a fixture in the first team ever since. He has registered six clean sheets in his 11 appearances, including the 1-0 win over AC Milan on March 8 and the 0-0 draw at Inter Milan on March 27.

The Udine-born keeper has represented his country at youth level, and in March was invited to a training camp by senior national team boss Cesare Prandelli.

Buffon -- who, at 36 years old, is more than twice Scuffet's age -- has given the youngster his seal of approval.

"He would not be stealing a place from anybody if he were included," the 2006 World Cup-winner told Gazzetta dello Sport.

Buffon added that the tournament would also be a poorer place without his Juventus teammates, strike duo Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente.

Tevez has been overlooked by Argentina ever since Alejandro Sabella replaced Sergio Batista as national team coach in August 2011. Football fans in Buenos Aires are planning a protest march on Friday against Sabella's continued refusal to call up the Serie A joint-top goalscorer -- "the people's player" -- for the upcoming finals.

Over 1,500 people have already confirmed, via internet forums and a Facebook page, their participation in a march which will lead them to the headquarters of the Argentinean Football Association (AFA), where they will call for his inclusion at the World Cup.

"It's strange to imagine them not being at the World Cup," Buffon added. "Carlitos is a leader while Fernando is really strong in the area. They've both slotted in really well to a squad which was already strong."

The pair, who are both on the verge of winning their first Serie A title having each signed for the club last summer, also have the backing of Juve general manager Beppe Marrotta.

"He's got to go to the World Cup in my opinion," Marrotta said at an event in Varese. "I also think that Llorente should go too. We're delighted with our two attackers. They have carried this team through difficult times."

Llorente last appeared for Spain in August, but he has not looked like adding to his 24 caps in recent months, despite finally hitting form for Juve with 13 goals in Serie A.

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