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The Juventus defender admits the absences of experienced players will affect the Azzurri when they take on France, but he has backed their replacements to impress.

Giorgio Chiellini is backing Italy's next generation to shine on Wednesday and says it will be strange lining up without Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo.

Cesare Prandelli has opted for youth in his latest Azzurri squad, with Stephan El Shaarawy, Marco Verratti, Salvatore Sirigu and Antonio Candreva set to start the match.

"Without Buffon and Pirlo we are losing two reference points, both for Juventus and the national team," Chiellini told reporters. "It'll be weird without them, but tomorrow can be a great stage to test young talents like Sirigu, Verratti and El Shaarawy. We need to find a good result. We have improved a great deal, but still need that step up in quality."

Chiellini faces one of his former coaches in Didier Deschamps, and had only positive words to say about the France coach.

"Deschamps was an important coach during my growth process, and I will salute him with affection before the game," he said. "He put me in central defense during a rather unusual season in Serie B, and I am happy he has achieved the dream of every coach - to be in charge of his own country."

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