Di Natale blow for Italy
Striker set to miss rest of the season
Last Updated: March 29, 2009 7:15pm
Di Natale: Laid low
Antonio Di Natale has been ruled out of Italy's clash with the Republic of Ireland after suffering a serious knee injury.
The Udinese striker suffered a knee ligament injury during Italy's 2-0 win over Montenegro on Saturday.
It is feared he could now miss the rest of Udinese's campaign as he faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
"The recovery time will vary depending on a decision that will be taken in the next few days," national team doctor Enrico Castellacci told the Italian football federation's official website.
"The doctors will have to decide whether to use conservative therapy or operate.
"In this case, Antonio's season will be over and he will need five or six months to recover."
The news is a blow for Italy coach Marcello Lippi, who is already without forward duo Luca Toni and Alberto Gilardino due to injury.
But Lippi is not expected to call up any replacement for Di Natale with Gianpaolo Pazzini being promoted to the starting line-up after coming off the bench to score against Montenegro.
Better news on the injury front is that Giorgio Chiellini has been passed fit for the clash with Ireland in Bari.
Juventus star Chiellini donned a protective mask in Montenegro after picking up a facial injury and it was feared he suffered a new blow after suffering a knock to the face.
However, scans have shown Chiellini suffered no new damage and he will be fit to face the Irish.