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Zambrotta likely to return for Italy

Written by: Staff

KAISERSLAUTERN, June 16 (Reuters) Italy coach Marcello Lippi said defender Gianluca Zambrotta was likely to return after injury for Saturday's World Cup Group E game with United States.

Zambrotta, who has had a thigh injury, missed the 2-0 win over Ghana on Monday and two previous warm-up matches. But he was back in full training this week.

''Zambrotta is available again and will probably return,'' Lippi told a news conference today.

The coach said he had a full squad of 23 players to choose from after midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, who also missed the Ghana game, came through training without any reaction to his thigh injury.

Lippi declined to discuss his lineup although it is unlikely Gattuso will be rushed back after a solid display from the midfield trio of Andrea Pirlo, Simone Perrotta and Daniele De Rossi on Monday.

If, as expected, Zambrotta returns to the defence, then it will be at the expense of either right back Cristian Zaccardo or left back Fabio Grosso.

Zambrotta said he was unconcerned which flank he operated on.

''It doesn't matter for me. I've played both, either is certainly better than the bench,'' he said.

The versatile Juventus defender, who can also operate in a midfield role, said he was not worried about his lack of match practice.

''It's not the first World Cup that I am at, nor is it the first big game for me. I have plenty of experience so I don't see a problem,'' he said.

''Lippi knows what I can do. I'll play as I always have.'' REUTERS DH RAI0046

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