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May 2, 2006

Inzaghi delighted but cautious ahead of Italy return

ROME, May 2 (Reuters) - AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi is overwhelmed by his return to the Italy set-up but refuses to discuss his World Cup chances.

'I'm very happy and very excited to be back after two years' absence,' Inzaghi told reporters before the start of a two-day training camp in the Italian capital.

'It is great to be back in these colours, really satisfying and I would say a unique feeling,' said the forward who has suffered two years of knee and ankle injuries.

Inzaghi has not played for the national team since scoring twice in a 4-0 rout of Azerbaijan in October 2003 and has never played for Italy under coach Marcello Lippi, who took over from Giovanni Trapattoni following Euro 2004.

Lippi coached the 32-year-old in his first spell at Juventus and Inzaghi is pleased to be working with his old boss again.

'It is great to see him again and the others who work with him and to feel the affection. You live for moments like this,' said Inzaghi.

The Milan forward avoided talking up his chances of making the squad for the finals in Germany which will be announced on May 15.

'I don't want to get carried away. There can only be 23 players in the squad and those who don't go have to do the right thing and accept the decision of the coach.

'I need to focus on these two days and then finishing the season well with Milan,' he said.

Inzaghi has scored 21 goals in 48 appearances for the Azzurri and has enjoyed a rapid return to form with Milan after beginning his comeback in earnest in October.

He scored twice against Bayern Munich and two more against Olympique Lyon as Milan reached the semi-finals of the Champions League where they lost to Barcelona.

Inzaghi was named last month in a 29-man squad for the two-day training session. 'To be honest I never imagined that there would be something like this.'

The Milan forward said he was grateful to those who had stood by him during his injury problems.

'I never thought of quitting and the people at Milan really backed me and helped me, they never doubted me.

'I always had the hope (of returning to the national side) because although the years go by, I have the same spirit as when I was 15 and I think you see that.'