Italy goalkeeper Buffon out of England game

21:55, Jun 14 2014
Gianluigi Buffon
SIDELINED: Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will miss Italy's opening World Cup match against England in Manaus due to an ankle sprain.

Italy goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon will miss their opening World Cup Group D match against England later on Saturday (local time) in Manaus because of injury, officials said.

The 36-year-old - one of Italy's most important players -twisted his ankle in a Friday training session and although coach Cesare Prandelli was confident he would be fit, he did not recover in time for the 7pm (10am Sunday NZ time) kickoff.

Buffon will be replaced by Salvatore Sirigu, 27, who has eight caps.

"Italy goalkeeper and captain Buffon has been officially ruled out of England vs Italy due to an ankle injury," the Italian soccer federation said in a tweet.

The federation had earlier denied reports by Italian media that the keeper would miss the match.

Earlier on Saturday, Buffon tweeted a link to social network site Whosay.com to say: "Life is beautiful and I am still in debt to it. Missing one game or missing another World Cup isn't going to change that.

"There are a lot of ways to be important even if you aren't on the field. So, come on Salvatore! Come on magic lads."

The injury to Buffon, who won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, is a further blow to the Azzurri after fullback Mattia De Sciglio was ruled out of the game with a thigh injury.

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Reuters