Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti has pulled out of the Italy squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Albania. He was replaced by the uncapped Nicolo Barella.
Verratti played 79 minutes of Saturday’s 6-2 win over Bordeaux before he was taken off with an unspecified injury.
It is a maiden call-up for the 20-year-old Barella. The Cagliari midfielder only made his debut for Italy’s under-21 side last month.
Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura also called up Chievo Verona forward Roberto Inglese, with Torino’s Andrea Belotti facing tests on Monday after injuring his knee during Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Hellas Verona.
The Azzurri host Macedonia in Turin on Friday before going to Tirana for their final World Cup qualifier against Albania three days later.
Italy is second in European Group G, three points behind Spain. It needs one point from its final two qualifying matches to secure second spot and a playoff place for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.