Barzagli hopes to return for Ireland clash

The defender has missed the Azzurri's first two matches with a calf injury, but insists his absence has not been felt by the side and is eager to feature against Trapattoni's men
Italy's Andrea Barzagli has commended his fellow defenders for their efforts in the side's first two matches of Euro 2012 and revealed that he is eager to return for the clash against Ireland.

The 31-year-old was a certainty to start at centre-back for the Azzurri in Poland and Ukraine but sustained a calf injury in the 3-0 friendly defeat to Russia earlier in June.

"I want to play. But first I must try to prove myself in training, then [Italy coach Cesare] Prandelli will make a decision," Barzagli said at a press conference.

"We have two points, but we are doing very well."

His absence forced Prandelli to reshuffle his pack and switch to a three-man defence, but the Juve man has been impressed with the performance levels of trio Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Daniele De Rossi.

"I'm happy because we have so far suffered little in defence. De Rossi has added security to the defence because of his technique and vision derived from him being a midfielder. He has done well so far, like everyone else.

"We are not thinking of going home, even if there is a possibility, but we must stay focused on the match with Ireland. We will try to win convincingly.

"Chiellini's misjudgement against Croatia? I think it won't happen again, it is out of character for someone like him."

Barzagli went on to say that he does not believe Spain and Croatia will collude to knock Italy out of the competition.

"I have no doubt that Spain will play to win, as well as Croatia."

Kick-off in Poznan on Monday is scheduled for 20:45CET.