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Euro 2024: Spalletti ‘confident’ Barella will be fit for opening match against Albania

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Luciano Spalletti said Saturday that he expected Nicolo Barella to be available for Italy’s Euro 2024 opener with Albania next weekend as the midfield star recovers from a thigh injury.

Barella will have missed both of Italy’s warm-up matches with the injury, as the European champion faces Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday after Tuesday’s goalless draw with Turkey.

Italy’s football federation said on Saturday that Barella should be back training with the Azzurri squad “in the coming days” after tests revealed he was recovering well.

“We’ve been optimistic pretty much since the get-go because the situation has always been under control,” Spalletti told reporters.

ALSO READ: Euro 2024: Final squads of all the 24 participating nations, full list of players

“He won’t be available for the game in Empoli, but we’re confident, that he will be for Albania.”

Spalletti then told Sky Sport that “there shouldn’t be any doubt for his availability against Albania”.

Barella, one of the few Euro 2020 winners to make Spalletti’s squad, is a key player for Italy and one of the stars of Serie A champion Inter Milan.

The 27-year-old was a near ever-present in Inter’s charge to its 20th Italian league title, which it won with five matches to spare.

He has scored nine times in 53 appearances for his country.

Spalletti also told reporters that Nicolo Fagioli, a surprise selection for the Azzurri, will start in midfield alongside Arsenal’s Jorginho.

Fagioli replaced Jorginho in the Turkey stalemate to make just his third appearance for club or country since October after missing most of the season with a gambling ban.

Gianluca Scamacca will start up front after joining the training camp late due to Atalanta’s delayed finish to the Serie A season.

In-form Scamacca, who was key to Atalanta making history by winning the Europa League, played in his club’s postponed match against Fiorentina last weekend.

Italy takes on Albania on June 15 in Group B, where it has also been drawn with Spain and Croatia.

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