Italy stick with Barzagli

Defender may be fit for final Euro 2012 group game against Ireland

Andrea Barzagli: Defender will stay with the Italy squad and could face Republic of Ireland

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Injured defender Andrea Barzagli will stay with the Italy squad and could return for his team's final group game at Euro 2012.

Barzagli picked up a calf injury during last week's friendly defeat by Russia and there were concerns that the Juventus stopper would miss the tournament.

The Azzurri will be without Barzagli for Sunday's game against holders Spain and the second group fixture against Croatia, but he could return to tackle the Republic of Ireland on Monday 18th June.

"Barzagli underwent tests today, including an MRI and there is evidence of an improvement in his condition," Italy team doctor Enrico Castellacci told the Italian football federation's official website.

"Hence, the coach has decided to keep the player with us. Our aim is to have him back for our third game."

Cagliari defender Davide Astori had been called up to train with the Azzurri squad and he will remain with the party for a further 24 hours.

Castellacci added: "Astori will remain with us at least until tomorrow seeing as we can replace a player 24 hours before the start of our game against Spain."

Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi is expected to be pressed into playing a defensive role for the game against Spain in Gdansk.