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Surprises abound in post-World Cup year

FC United about an hour ago
Read
Jun 13, 2014

Gianluigi Buffon twists ankle

Italy will be without goalkeeper Gigi Buffon after he suffered an ankle injury in training on Friday.

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is a doubt for his team's World Cup opener against England on Saturday after sustaining a knock in training.

The Azzurri captain, a key member of the triumphant side of 2006, 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 of the 36-year-old Juventus man. "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. He was treated for a bruised rib after the Ireland match and has since regained fitness.

Antonio Mirante was brought to Brazil as a fourth goalkeeper in case of injury but was sent home earlier Friday.

If Gianluigi Buffon plays against England on Saturday, he will do so with a twisted ankle.

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."

Prandelli, like England counterpart Roy Hodgson earlier on Friday evening, downplayed issues surrounding the pitch in Manaus.

Images emerged in the days leading up to Saturday's encounter that showed the surface to be in a shocking state, with over-fertilisation making the grass dry and led to brown patches.

Some of those areas appeared to be spray painted over on Thursday but, having trained on the Arena Amazonia surface for more than an hour, Prandelli had no concerns.

"The turf that had been described to me was in a very bad condition, but it is actually in very good condition," he said.

"It is not exceptional, but it is certainly good. As regards to the system of play I am going to use, it is always good to have a few lingering doubts on the night before because up until they very last minute the players must feel that they are still competing for a place on the squad.

"We don't want to give any competitive advantage to anybody."

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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