Football: Italy lose three more players ahead of World Cup decider

Italy's players (left) and Switzerland's players line up prior to their Fifa World Cup qualifier on Nov 12, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

MILAN (AFP) - Italy were on Saturday (Nov 13) hit with another round of injuries as the European champions prepare for their crucial final 2022 World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland.

Having already had captain Giorgio Chiellini and first-choice striker Ciro Immobile among the several players ruled out of Friday's 1-1 draw with Switzerland, coach Roberto Mancini has now lost three more for Monday's clash at Windsor Park.

Alessandro Bastoni and Davide Calabria are out injured while fellow defender Cristiano Biraghi leaves the Azzurri camp for "personal reasons", the Italian Football Federation said.

Mancini has called up Davide Zappacosta to his squad for the match, which will decide whether Italy qualify for next year's tournament in Qatar after missing out in 2018.

AC Milan full-back Calabria played 10 minutes against the Swiss, in a draw which leaves Italy's hopes of returning to the World Cup hanging in the balance.

Italy lead Switzerland at the top of Group C on goal difference with one match remaining and a single guaranteed spot for the tournament.

Mancini's team take on the Northern Irish knowing they need to match Switzerland's result against Bulgaria, assuming the "Nati" don't win with a heavy enough scoreline to overturn the two-goal gap separating the two teams.

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