20.03.2022 16:26 h

Italy lose defender Di Lorenzo for World Cup play-offs

Napoli defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo has been ruled out of Italy's upcoming World Cup play-offs with a right knee injury, the Italian football federation (FIGC) confirmed on Sunday.

Di Lorenzo, who has 19 caps for the reigning European champions, limped off during second-placed Serie A side Napoli's 2-1 league win over Udinese on Saturday.

After tests on Sunday, the FIGC announced that Di Lorenzo "is unavailable for the next matches" and has returned to his club.

AC Milan's Alessandro Florenzi could take Di Lorenzo's place on the right flank but coach Roberto Mancini could also opt to call up another player to the group.

Italy play North Macedonia in Palermo on March 24 and if they win take on either Portugal or Turkey five days later in their bid to qualify for the World Cup.

Four-time world champions Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the first time they missed the tournament in 60 years, after losing a two-legged playoff to Sweden.