ITALY suffered a serious blow ahead of the World Cup when midfielder Riccardo Montolivo broke his leg during last night’s warm-up game against Ireland at Craven Cottage.
“It’s what we feared, a fractured tibia. It will probably need some months. Riccardo is out of the World Cup. He didn’t deserve this,” team doctor Enrico Castellacci said afterwards.
The elegant AC Milan midfielder was accidentally caught in a challenge by defender Alex Pearce after ten minutes and, having stood up to test his leg, went down again and was carried off on a stretcher after five minutes of treatment.
He was taken to hospital for an X-ray where it was confirmed he had suffered a fractured tibia.
Italy also had to substitute Montolivo’s replacement Alberto Aquilani, who only played for 23 minutes before he went off after taking a knock to the head.
“It’s difficult to talk about the technical things when something like that happens. We are all stunned by what happened,” said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli.
Ireland had looked the more dangerous of the two sides and were unlucky not to go in front in the 78th minute when substitute Stephen Kelly’s effort beat Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu but struck the crossbar.
Sirigu had earlier made some fantastic saves to prevent Ireland taking the lead.
Prandelli fielded Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi, who was looking to prove his fitness having recently recovered from a right knee injury, alongside Serie A’s top scorer Ciro Immobile up front.
n Manager Brian McDermott has left Leeds United by mutual consent. His future had looked increasingly uncertain after Italian Massimo Cellino’s recent takeover of the Elland Road club.