Lippi drops Di Natale hint
Marcello Lippi has hinted Antonio Di Natale will not start Italy's opening World Cup game against Paraguay.
Last Updated: 13/06/10 10:05pm
Marcello Lippi has hinted Antonio Di Natale will not start Italy's opening World Cup game against Paraguay and is targeting the third group fixture for Andrea Pirlo's return.
Holders Italy start their challenge in South Africa on Monday by tackling Paraguay in Cape Town and Di Natale could be consigned to a role on the bench.
Di Natale, who was prolific in Serie A last season, did not start in what appeared to be Lippi's chosen XI in a practice game, while Gennaro Gattuso was also not involved.
Instead, Alberto Gilardino lined up as the central striker with Simone Pepe to his right and the sluggish Vincenzo Iaquinta out of position on the left. Daniele De Rossi teamed up with Claudio Marchisio in midfield with Riccardo Montolivo in the playmaking role.
When pressed, though, Lippi told journalists: "If you don't understand the line-up you should change your trade and give up being journalists.
"If you don't understand the kind of line-up I am using, you better change jobs. Come on, what excuse do you have? But I'm not going to tell you, anyway.
"Let me say once again that I haven't even told the players. If I tell you today, that is not fair.
"We'll see if you got it right."
Lippi's only injury problem is AC Milan midfielder Pirlo, the chief playmaker still recovering from a calf problem suffered before the tournament.
"He is not going to be ready," said the veteran coach.
"His condition is improving, he is matching the schedule we imagined when we learned of his problem and decided to bring him anyway.
"He came with enthusiasm and is excited.
"I'll be happy if he is ready for the third match. I think he'll try to be ready for the second match, but I would be happy for the third match."