Pirlo to miss Italy’s game in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan face an Italy side who are struggling for goals and will now be without Andrea Pirlo on Saturday.

Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo is unavailable for his side’s Euro 2016 qualification clash against Azerbaijan in Baku, head coach Antonio Conte has revealed.

The 36-year-old New York City player – who has 116 caps for his country – suffered an adductor injury in training ahead of the game on Saturday, in which the Azzurri can secure a place in the tournament with a victory.

Conte is hopeful Pirlo will be fit to play some part in their final Group H qualifier at home to Norway on Tuesday, by which point he will hope his players have sealed qualification.

“Andrea will be unavailable for Saturday’s match,” said the former Juventus boss.

“He was injured on Friday in training. He made a strange movement and pulled up with an adductor injury.

“It is a shame, because of what he brings on and off the pitch. I hope he will be able to recover for Norway.”

Conte was forced to defend Pirlo from criticism during the last international break after he was dropped for their victory over Bulgaria following a below-par performance in their previous game against Malta.

Italy have been struggling for goals in their recent outings, having scored just four times in their last five internationals.

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