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Montolivo to miss World Cup

Italy midfielder Riccardo Montolivo will miss the World Cup with a broken leg suffered in Saturday night's 0-0 friendly draw against the Republic of Ireland at Craven Cottage.

The AC Milan captain was carried off the pitch on a stretcher early in the first half following a challenge with Ireland's Alex Pearce and was taken to a nearby hospital to have an X-ray.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) confirmed Montolivo has a fractured tibia and will be taken to Milan in an air ambulance on Sunday ahead of surgery.

"All our thoughts are with Riccardo right now," coach Cesare Prandelli said. "I haven't spoken to him yet.

"Montolivo is an important player for us. He has become in the past few years a reference player not only on the pitch but off it. Obviously, his team-mates are shocked."

Montolivo's absence will no doubt hurt Italy in Brazil, but it immediately took its toll in London as they struggled to create a decent chance after his departure.

"Everyone got distracted by the injury," Prandelli said. "It's difficult to assess the game right now, we will do that once we return to Florence tomorrow.

"There were positives from this game but we wish there could have been more."

Prandelli, whose side are now winless in their last six international games, was set to name his final squad for the World Cup on Sunday.

"I might take one extra day to name the squad but we will see tomorrow," he said.

Republic of Ireland coach Martin O'Neill applauded his players following their impressive performance at Craven Cottage.

O'Neill, whose side lost 2-1 against Turkey in Dublin last weekend, were the better team on the night and were unlucky not to claim the win when substitute Stephen Kelly saw his shot beat Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu but hit the crossbar.

"We played very well indeed," O'Neill said. "Italy started well and had two chances in the opening 10 minutes but after that, we settled down.

"I thought we were excellent. We could have scored a few goals.

"I'm very pleased with the way we played against Italy.

"I thought the game was very competitive from start to finish, just what both teams wanted."


From Belfast Telegraph