Buffon is a worry for Prandelli

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Italy have a fitness worry over goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon as they prepare to open their FIFA World Cup™ campaign against England on Saturday.

The Azzurri captain, a key member of the triumphant side of 2006, was absent from his scheduled appearance at the pre-match press conference at the Arena Amazonia. Antonio Candreva instead sat alongside head coach Cesare Prandelli, who confirmed Buffon had picked up an ankle knock during training on the eve of the Group D clash.

“He twisted his ankle very lightly,” Prandelli said. “It was a very, very light ankle twist. He is receiving therapy at the moment, but it is nothing serious.”  Any deterioration in Buffon’s condition would certainly be a big blow to an Italy side already with full-back Mattia de Sciglio through injury.

It is hardly the ideal preparation for a match against an England side which Prandelli knows has the ability to hurt them on the attack. “England have personality and psychological strength,” he said. “They are very good at running, they are a fast team.

“The attackers have technical skills and are able to use the space available to them in the best way, so we will have to be very careful and we will have to try to control the midfield. That is going to be the key.”

Prandelli, like England counterpart Roy Hodgson earlier on Friday evening, downplayed issues surrounding the pitch in Manaus. “The turf that had been described to me was in a very bad condition, but it is actually in very good condition,” he said.

“It is not exceptional, but it is certainly good. As regards to the system of play I am going to use, it is always good to have a few lingering doubts on the night before because up until they very last minute the players must feel that they are still competing for a place on the squad. We don’t want to give any competitive advantage to anybody.”

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