FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Italy forward Ciro Immobile became the latest player to withdraw from the Azzurri squad on Tuesday, and there were further injury concerns with other players ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Switzerland in Rome.
Immobile left the Italy camp on Tuesday after medical tests revealed a muscular injury to his left leg. The Lazio forward will be replaced by Sassuolo’s Gianluca Scamacca.
The 31-year-old Immobile is Lazio’s all-time leading goalscorer and has been the top scorer in Serie A on three occasions but often gets criticized when playing for Italy. Immobile has netted 10 times in 11 matches for Lazio this season, but he has only scored 15 goals in 54 Italy appearances.
Roma midfielders Nicolò Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini withdrew from the squad on Monday and were replaced by Matteo Pessina and Danilo Cataldi.
Inter Milan midfielder Nicolò Barella and Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini didn’t train on Tuesday and instead underwent treatment. Their condition will be evaluated in the coming days.
Italy and Switzerland have 14 points atop Group C with the European champion having the tiebreaker advantage on goal difference of two goals better.
Only the first-place finisher gets a direct spot into next year’s finals in Qatar. The second-place team goes into the playoffs in March, needing to advance past two opponents to reach the World Cup.
Switzerland also has injury problems. It was already without captain Granit Xhaka and forward Haris Seferovic due to long-term injuries and lost winger Steven Zuber on Monday as the fourth player to drop out injured from the squad selected last week.
After Switzerland, Italy plays Northern Ireland in Belfast next Monday. The Swiss finish by hosting Bulgaria.
Italy beat Switzerland 3-0 in Rome in the group phase of Euro 2020. The teams drew 0-0 in Basel in September in World Cup qualifying.
Italy’s world record 37-match unbeaten run ended last month with a 2-1 loss to Spain in a Nations League semifinal.
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