Del Piero blow for Azzurri

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Italy have lost the services of striker Alessandro Del Piero for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier in Belarus.

The Juventus hit-man strained his right thigh after training with Marcello Lippi's squad before Saturday's 1-1 draw in Scotland.

The 30-year-old was unable to feature at Hampden Park and after failing to finish training in Minsk on Tuesday morning, the striker has opted to return back to Italy after being ruled out of Wednesday's contest.

The news will come as a disappointment to Del Piero, with reports suggesting he may have earned a start against the former Soviet Republic.

Although Del Piero is out of the reckoning, Lippi is unlikely to make a late call-up to replace the experienced goalscorer.

The former Juventus manager played a three-man attack of Christian Vieri, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Francesco Totti against the Scots and has striking options in Fiorentina's Luca Toni and Milan's Alberto Gilardino to choose from as well.

The Azzurri will want maximum points from their trip to Belarus, as they edge closer to securing a place in next summer's finals in Germany as leaders of Group Five.