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By ESPN Staff

Lippi offers Toni lifeline for World Cup finals place

Italy coach Marcello Lippi has left the door open for Luca Toni to return to the national team.

Toni made his first start for Roma since his loan move from Bayern Munich in Saturday's 1-0 win over Chievo.

"I saw a great performance by Toni,'' said Lippi. "I was very impressed considering he had not played for several months.''

The 32-year-old forward, who was out of favour with the German giants, returned to Serie A this month prompted by his desire to feature in this summer's World Cup in South Africa.

His lack of playing time at Bayern had seen Toni, a 2006 World-Cup winner with the Azzurri, dropped from Lippi's squad since the Confederations Cup last summer.

"It would be wonderful to be able to take 35 players to the World Cup,'' said Lippi. "But you cannot do that. We need to remember that only 23 players can go.

"I follow all the games. I am monitoring everything. I am very happy and convinced that there will be over 30 players able to do well from here until the end of the season.''

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