Lippi looks to experiment
By Chris Stanton
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Marcello Lippi will use this week's friendly as a warm-up for next month's qualifiers.
Italy coach Marcello Lippi is hoping to use this week's friendly international with Republic of Ireland as a warm-up for the Azzurri's World Cup qualifying Group Five meetings with Scotland and Belarus next month.
However, Lippi's preparations have been hindered by injuries to Juventus duo Gianluigi Buffon and Mauro Camoranesi, who have shoulder and knee problems respectively.
Roma captain Francesco Totti has also been ruled out after reporting ill on Monday afternoon, although Lippi is in a positive frame of mind and is eager to use the opportunity to try out other options within the squad.
Lippi confirmed to Italian reporters: "I am sorry for those players who couldn't be present at our training camp.
"However, this is a group that has quality and the desire to show they can cope even with important absences."
Lippi has called Palermo goalkeeper Matteo Guardalben into the squad to cover for Buffon but is likely to start with either Morgan De Sanctis or Flavio Roma in Dublin.
Totti's absence means a likely return to the starting line-up for Alessandro Del Piero after a year out of the side.
Lippi said: "Del Piero is back because he is in good shape physically and mentally."
The former Juventus coach also confirmed that Antonio Cassano is still a part of his national team plans despite not including the Roma striker for Wednesday's friendly.
He said: "Cassano isn't physically or mentally fit for this match but for the next match he will be involved.
"What counts at this stage of the season is to get the legs and formation into shape because we don't have much time to experiment during the season," Lippi added.