Pirlo set to return for Italy-Spain duel

Fortaleza (Brazil), June 26 (IANS) Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo is set to return to Italy’s line-up for Thursday’s Confederations Cup semifinal against Spain.

Pirlo, who missed the Azzurri’s 2-4 loss to Brazil Saturday with a calf injury, trained freely with the rest of the squad here Tuesday, reports Xinhua.

The news was not so positive for Milan right-back Ignazio Abate, who was sent back to Italy with a shoulder injury joining Mario Balotelli, who has also departed with a thigh problem.

Abate is expected to be replaced in Cesare Prandell’s starting line-up by Napoli’s Christian Maggio while Bologna forward Alberto Gilardino is tipped to take Balotelli’s place.

Azzurri midfielder Claudio Marchisio said Pirlo was eager to prove his fitness for the repeat of the Euro 2012 final at the Castelao Stadium.

“Andrea is a great professional. He is back working hard in training and wants to start in the semifinal. It’s now up to the coach to decide if that will happen,” Marchisio said.

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