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Italy coach Antonio Conte expects Marco Verratti to step up in Andrea Pirlo's absence when his team takes on Bulgaria in Sofia in Saturday's Euro 2016 qualifier.

The Azzurri are without the vastly experienced Pirlo, as well as Roma's Daniele De Rossi, with both midfielders recovering from injuries.

To complicate matters for Conte, Juve midfielder Claudio Marchisio injured his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Friday's training session and could be sidelined for six months.

Verratti,...

 By Ben Gladwell

Leonardo Bonucci: Italy have best defence in international football

Italy defender Andrea Barzagli believes any player eligible and good enough to play for the Azzurri should not be prevented from doing so.

England are set to come up against the best defence in international football when they meet Italy on Tuesday, according to Leonardo Bonucci.

Italy coach Antonio Conte is set to rely on the solid foundations upon which he won three straight Serie A titles with Juventus before taking charge of the national team last summer when the Three Lions visit the Juventus Stadium.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon should find Juve teammates Giorgio Chiellini, fit-again Andrea Barzagli and Bonucci in front of him...

 By Michael Cox

Can Verratti, De Gea and Kane break into their national teams' starting XIs?

The ESPN FC crew debate whether or not Harry Kane should start up front for England against Lithuania.
England head coach Roy Hodgson, and striker Wayne Rooney are confident about Harry Kane's debut in the European qualifier against Lithuania.

The European Championship's expansion to a 24-team tournament has a multitude of effects -- one is that it effectively gives the major countries a free pass. Therefore, managers have more license to experiment and evolve their side with significantly less risk of failure.

Here are five fine talents still attempting to break into their country's first-choice XI -- what chance do they have of overhauling more established names?

1. Marco Verratti, Italy

By this stage, we expected Verratti to be Italy's...

 By PA Sport

Marco Verratti hopes to shine with Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi out

Marco Verratti's reputation is growing as he looks to follow in Andrea Pirlo's footsteps for Italy.

Marco Verratti admits he has big shoes to fill on Saturday when he replaces Andrea Pirlo in Italy's midfield and plays against Bulgaria.

The Azzurri will be without their vastly experienced 35-year-old, as well as Roma's combative midfielder Daniele De Rossi, as both players recover their fitness.

Italy coach Antonio Conte has therefore turned to Verratti, 22, someone who has shone on the Champions League stage for Paris Saint-Germain.

The PSG player has a chance to prove he can be a permanent replacement...