SOCCER UPDATESS :

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli can welcome back Claudio Marchisio and Ignazio Abate for the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Malta after the pair missed the 2-2 friendly draw with Brazil on Thursday.

Abate is vying with Napoli’s Christian Maggio for the right-back role, whilst Marchisio is expected to come into the midfield in place of the suspended Daniele De Rossi. Pablo Daniel Osvaldo also misses out through suspension, meaning that Stephan El Shaarawy could partner his AC Milan team-mate Mario Balotelli up front.

Mattia De Sciglio is expected to maintain his spot at left-back after impressing on his international debut, whilst Giorgio Chiellini is also pushing for a start. Gianluigi Buffon is set for his 126th Azzurri cap between the sticks and Alessandro Florenzi has joined the squad from the Under-21 set-up.

Malta coach Pietro Ghedin could be tempted to make changes to the side which were crushed 6-0 by Bulgaria on Friday evening.

Roderick Briffa and Paul Fenech were both substituted in that defeat and their replacements Ryan Camilleri and Rowen Muscat could be in line for starting berths.

Michael Mifsud, Malta’s leading all-time goalscorer with 36 goals, is once again set to lead the front line and is looking for his first goal in qualifying.

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