After missing the opening win over England, the Juventus shot-stopper is set to return to help Cesare Prandelli's men pursue a spot in the last 16Italy are hopeful of having Gianluigi Buffon back for their crunch Group D meeting with Costa Rica on Friday, with both sides looking for a victory which could ensure their passage to the last 16 of the World Cup.
Buffon picked up a slight ankle strain during training ahead of the Azzurri’s opener with England in Manaus and, despite Cesare Prandelli initially playing down the injury, the Juventus keeper was ruled out of the 2-1 victory.
Salvatore Sirigu deputised and did well, although there were uncertain moments at corners, and Prandelli is hoping to have his No.1 available for selection despite not knowing the extent of the problem.
“We didn’t have enough time for him to recovery, but I think in a few days he will be available again. He had a sprain so I don't know how long he will be out for."
The coach also praised Matteo Darmian’s impact at right-back, so the Torino man is expected to retain his place in a four-man defence, while Marco Verratti should also start after being taken off against England because of a virus.
Costa Rica also got off to an excellent start earlier on Saturday, roaring back from a goal down to beat Uruguay 3-1.
It was the first time los Ticos had scored more than twice in a World Cup match in 11 attempts, and they came from just four shots on target, all of which were in the second half.
It was also the first time they had ever beaten Uruguay, at their ninth attempt, and they did it with five at the back and four midfielders.
It is unlikely they will be more adventurous against Italy, who recorded the highest pass completion rate (93.2 per cent) of any team at a World Cup since 1966.
The midfield were key to that, with Andrea Pirlo racking up the most individual passes of the 2014 tournament to date against England – 108, with only five missing their target. Ninety-nine of Daniele De Rossi’s 105 passes found a team-mate, too.
If England and Uruguay draw on Thursday, the victor here will seal their passage to the second round.