Gianluigi Buffon set to be among Italy changes vs. Ireland at Euro 2016
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is set for a rest as coach Antonio Conte makes changes to the his starting XI ahead of his team's meeting with Republic of Ireland in Lille on Wednesday.
The Juventus and Italy captain has had the flu for the past few days and although now back in full training, Conte is unlikely to risk him ahead of their round-of-16 clash on Monday, which will be against Group D runners-up, Spain.
"Gigi's had this fever up to today, when he joined us in training again," Conte said at a news conference.
"We want to get him back in the best way possible and this proves that all of the decisions we make are pondered ones, so as not to take any game lightly."
Conte confirmed he will make a large number of changes to his starting XI.
"It will be between seven and nine," Conte said. "After the Sweden game and seeing the lads in training, I changed my mind over a few things. You may think it's a pointless game, but I don't think it's pointless and my choices will be made to give me important answers.
"What I ask of my lads is to play the game to win it, because winning helps you win. We're not relaxing, though, because I know full well that if we lose, then people are going to start to criticise us. So let's try not to give the opportunity for people to criticise us."
"I'm expecting a team performance and not individual performances as that would go against our principles. If we do things well together, we will have a good chance of winning."
Angelo Ogbonna looks set to be given his first appearance of the European Championship, replacing Salvatore Sirigu, with either Andrea Barzagli or Leonardo Bonucci --the latter who is a booking away from missing the Spain game -- or Matteo Darmian in a three-man defensive outfit.
Should Bonucci start, Darmian could play wide on the right -- the position he filled for his former club Torino and Manchester United -- with Florenzi just inside and Stefano Sturaro alongside Thiago Motta in the midfield.
On the left, Federico Bernardeschi is set to earn a place over Stephan El Shaarawy while Simone Zaza and Ciro Immobile are expected to be Conte's attackers, even if the Italy coach had words of praise for Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne on Tuesday.
"He's positively surprised me," Conte said. "I'm very pleased with what he is doing, with how he is training and with his approach. I know I have an important ace up my sleeve at a particular moment and I hope to be able to give Lorenzo a chance because he deserves it."