Buffon denies rift in Italy camp and gives backing to Cesare Prandelli

The veteran goalkeeper has reacted to claims that there is tension in the squad ahead of their trip to Armenia after Daniele De Rossi's omission from the Roma team on Sunday
Gianluigi Buffon has quashed rumours of a rift in the Italy squad as they prepare for their World Cup 2014 qualifier against Armenia on Friday.

The Juventus goalkeeper was forced to deny reports that Daniele De Rossi's failure to make the starting 11 for Roma's win over Atalanta on Tuesday had created tension in the Azzurri ranks and backed the midfielder to perform for the national side.

"The atmosphere is normal. There is nothing complicated about it. It just so happened that on Sunday the coach decided to not play Daniele," he explained at a press conference on Tuesday.

"You do not know the real reasons. But regardless, his value and contribution to our team go way above any problems he has [at Roma].

"We have him, we are all close and we are happy he is in our squad. Players bring their club worries to the national team all the time – that is commonplace. But the national team is immune from all this negativity."

The omission of strikers Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano by Cesare Prandelli raised eyebrows in some quarters, but veteran Buffon believes in his manager's vision and has backed the pair to bounce back.

"We are trying to carry out a project with fresh faces and young players who are being given a chance on the biggest of stages. Hopefully these players will grow quickly on a technical level, because Brazil 2014 is not so far away," he continued.

"We all know Mario's value. We expect him to produce the quality he is capable of on the field, and help us win games. He has that ability.

"The exclusion of Cassano? I am not surprised. These are the choices the coach has to make. I do not think, however, that the coach has closed the door in his face."

The 34-year-old also spoke of his pride at representing his country and dismissed claims that it provides an unwelcome distraction for players during their seasons at club level.

"You cannot say that the national team is a nuisance. It should always be a source of pride at any time of the season to play for your country," he concluded.