Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon could be a late injury doubt for today’s World Cup game against England, according to manager Cesare Prandelli.
The goalkeeper picked up an ankle strain during Friday’s training session and had to leave early to receive treatment, leaving backup Salvatore Sirigu on standby.
Prandelli was not giving too much away when speaking to the media before the match in Manaus, but remains optimistic that his captain will be ready to go in time for kickoff.
‘Buffon left early from training', he said. 'It’s a minor strain, a light one. He’s undergoing therapy on his ankle now.’
Having been involved with the Italy setup since making his debut in 1997, Buffon has accumulated a record 140 caps and proved key in the side’s 2006 World Cup triumph.
The Juventus star also appeared briefly at South Africa 2010, before a problem with his sciatic nerve in the first match ruled the 36-year-old out for the rest of the group phase, as the Azzurri crashed out in dramatic fashion.
Italy will be looking to make amends this time around in Brazil as they go into the tournament as favourites to top Group D ahead of England, Uruguay and Costa Rica, despite a recent seven-game winless streak.
Buffon is undoubtedly central to the four-time world champions’ hopes this summer and they will be praying not only can he return in time for their vital opener, but also remains at the top of his game for the crucial coming weeks in what’s likely to be the veteran keeper’s final major international tournament.