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Italy lose Ranocchia for Slovenia tie

Inter Milan defender Andrea Ranocchia has been forced to withdraw from the Italy squad to face Slovenia due to a knee injury.

Ranocchia, 23, has won two international caps but has been deprived of a third by the problem, which has forced him to return to Inter ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifier in Ljubljana on Friday, and the subsequent friendly with Ukraine.

The defender will now aim to recover in time to face city rivals Milan in the Serie A clash on April 2, while Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has opted against calling up a replacement for now.

Ranocchia is not a first choice for his country and in all likelihood Prandelli would have paired Juventus stars Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in the centre of defence.

Italy, who currently top Group C with ten points from four games, are boosted by the news that midfielder Thiago Motta has recovered from a knock and is available for selection.

Lazio midfielder Stefano Mauri will wear the No. 10 shirt against Slovenia, despite suggestions that Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero could have been recalled by Prandelli. Mauri says he is determined to prove he can bring some invention to the Italy side.

"People say there is little quality in this team? There is enough for us to achieve our goals, although perhaps a little less than there was in the past," Mauri told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Del Piero and Totti have been mentioned. I see it as something for those of us that are here, that we have to give some more. The coach asks me to make a link between the midfield and attack. I like to be diverse and use the spaces. A win over Slovenia would put us in a good position."

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