Del Piero ready to lead
Alessandro Del Piero feels like Italy's captain even though he is unlikely to start against Holland.
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 07/06/08 3:45pm
Alessandro Del Piero feels like Italy's captain even though he is unlikely to start their Euro 2008 opener against Holland.
Head coach Roberto Donadoni is yet to name his stand-in skipper for the tournament after Fabio Cannavaro was ruled out through injury.
Del Piero is the highest-capped player left in Donadoni's squad on 86 appearances, but he has not started a game under the Italy coach since September.
"Even if there are others who can wear the armband because of personality rather than caps, if you ask me if I feel like the captain, I say I do," stated Del Piero.
Italy are expected to start with one up front for this summer's championship in Austria and Switzerland, a situation that does not bother Del Piero even though he prefers to play as a second striker.
"I have no particular expectations (for the Netherlands match). As always I will prepare to be at 110 percent," he continued.
"My career, the facts, say I am a second striker but there is no diktat."
Meanwhile, veteran defender Christian Panucci expects to be fit for Monday's clash against the Oranje despite a niggling knee injury.
"It's a bit better even if it is a little swollen," he stated. "I really think I'll be there.
"At this moment there is a bit of pain but tomorrow it will be better."