Pirlo could return for Azurri

23 June 2010 08:30

Italy could welcome back Andrea Pirlo for the Azurri's crucial Group F match against Slovakia.

The AC Milan playmaker has returned to training after missing the first two games with a muscular injury and may feature in a side that has not impressed at all in South Africa.

Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss he had no injury problems but promised to make changes from the 2-0 defeat to Paraguay in their last game.

However, one player set to feature is playmaker Marek Hamsik, regarded as Slovakia's star man but who has made little impact so far as the coach believes now is the time for the Napoli player to show his Serie A form as the team need to win to give themselves a chance of reaching the next round.

"Hamsik has never let me down - that is why he is the captain of the Slovakia squad and he is the best Slovak footballer at the moment," Weiss said.

"He can have a weaker performance and in the first two matches he didn't match his expectations and my expectations of him. He is hoping that on Thursday he can shine, just like you know he shines in the Italian league."

Italy coach Marcello Lippi is optimistic that his side can progress to the knockout stages as the Azzurri head into their final group match at Ellis Park searching for their first win of the tournament after being held to draws by Paraguay and New Zealand.

"We can still do important things in this World Cup," he said. "It's within our possibilities.

"We can do so much better that what we have done so far. But we have to take responsibility after two games that didn't go as we had planned.

"Not everything has gone well but we cannot see the glass empty because it's not the case. There is absolutely no crisis in our team."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 08:44