Italy replace U21s with U20s for crunch Ireland game

Italy head coach Alberto Bollini looks on during the International Friendly match between Italy U19 and Switzerland U19 on February 12, 2020 in Lecco, Italy.

The Italian Football Federation have confirmed that they will field their Under-20 squad in tomorrow's crucial Under-21 European Championship qualifying game with Ireland in Pisa.

An outbreak of Covid-19 within the camp of the Under-21 squad has already seen the Italians call off last Friday's qualifier with Iceland, but with three further positive cases, they have now taken the step of replacing their squad with the Under-20s.

The Italian Under-20 squad have been in camp since last Wednesday and had been alerted to a possibility that they may have to step in for their older counterparts should the need arise. 

Under-20 manager Alberto Bollini will bring his full squad and will also be able to call upon four players from the Under-21s - Patrick Cutrone, Samuele Ricci, Riccardo Sottil and Sandro Tonali.

"It's a big shame," said Paolo Nicolato, the Under-21 Head Coach. "We've looked at every single possibility in what is a very complex situation. I'm proud of my staff and players, their behaviour and sense of responsibility are much more gratifying to me than winning."

"Thanks to the synergy that exists between Nicolato and Bollini and within the whole Italy setup in general, the unique situation hasn’t caught us unprepared," added Maurizio Viscidi, the National Youth Team Coordinator.

"The players who will take to the pitch have important qualities, even if they’re currently lacking in experience and the right blend is still to be found.

Italy are currently second in the group behind Jim Crawford's side, who would take a major step towards ensuring automatic qualification for the European Championship with a win in Italy.

Crawford has had Covid related problems of his own in the build-up to the game and has seen Dara O'Shea and Jason Knight to called up to Stephen Kenny’s senior side who have been hit by withdrawals.

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