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Cesare Prandelli brushes off speculation

Cesare Prandelli says now is not the time to talk about his future as Italy coach with two crucial World Cup qualifiers to prepare for.

• Brassell: Make or break for World Cup hopefuls
• Honigstein: Low yet to make case for defence

Prandelli said he will reveal his plans once qualification for next summer's World Cup has been acquired, leading to rumours he is set to leave his position after next summer's tournament in Brazil.

That was the main subject of discussion at the pre-match press conference on the eve of Italy's qualifier against Bulgaria in Palermo, but Prandelli seemed to be far less interested in the issue than the reporters, who have already started speculating who could take his place.

"I'm as serene as usual as it is nothing shocking," Prandelli said. "We are concentrating on qualification, then there will be plans."

When pressed on the issue, a calm Prandelli diverted the line of questioning to Friday's game, saying: "We're talking about something we should not be talking about right now."

The Squadra Azzurra could secure their ticket for Brazil in the next five days. Victory over Bulgaria would give them a seven-point advantage over their opponents at the top of Group B while a win over Czech Republic on Tuesday could then open up an insurmountable advantage over second place with only two qualifying games to come in October.

Prandelli is taking things one step at a time, though, focusing on what he expects to be a tricky tie at the Stadio Renzo Barbera. "We've seen them and we know we're going to face a very difficult side," he said.

"We've never played games which have been easy. Anybody can cause you problems. They are good with the ball, good on the break and particularly difficult to break down. We feel ready to face Bulgaria. These points are fundamental."

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