Italy must remain calm in preparing for Friday's crucial World Cup qualifier against Switzerland but it will be without injured pair Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo for the match, coach Roberto Mancini said on Monday.
The European champion is level with the Swiss on 14 points in Group C but is top on goal difference ahead of the two teams meeting at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
The winner will be in pole position to secure the one automatic qualification spot for Qatar 2022 with one game left, the two sides having drawn 0-0 in Basel in September.
The loser will likely have to settle for a playoff spot, a frightening prospect for Italy after its embarrassing playoff defeat by Sweden during 2018 World Cup qualifying.
“We must be calm in our preparation for this important game,” Mancini told a news conference.
“Games against Switzerland are always difficult and it will be on Friday too. If we play like we did in the first game, we can get a great result, but I believe we can do even better than that. It will be an important match, so you can’t prepare for it with tension.”
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Mancini revealed that Pellegrini and Zaniolo have been sent home with injuries, while midfielder Nicolo Barella will be monitored after picking up a knock.
The Italy squad is largely made up of the same players who triumphed at Euro 2020 in July, but Torino midfielder Tommaso Pobega earned his first call-up.
“Pobega deserves to be here and he has gone through all the various age grades and done well. He has great qualities, he is here because he has been doing well for some time,” Mancini said.
“I do not know who to compare him to. He is a physical and technical player with a good left foot. He can dictate play but also be an attacking midfielder, he is young and intelligent.”