Italy coach Antonio Conte expects Marco Verratti to step up in Andrea Pirlo's absence when his team takes on Bulgaria in Sofia in Saturday's Euro 2016 qualifier.
The Azzurri are without the vastly experienced Pirlo, as well as Roma's Daniele De Rossi, with both midfielders recovering from injuries.
To complicate matters for Conte, Juve midfielder Claudio Marchisio injured his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Friday's training session and could be sidelined for six months.
Marco Verratti admits he has big shoes to fill on Saturday when he replaces Andrea Pirlo in Italy's midfield and plays against Bulgaria.
The Azzurri will be without their vastly experienced 35-year-old, as well as Roma's combative midfielder Daniele De Rossi, as both players recover their fitness.
Italy coach Antonio Conte has therefore turned to Verratti, 22, someone who has shone on the Champions League stage for Paris Saint-Germain.
The PSG player has a chance to prove he can be a permanent replacement...
SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Bulgaria coach Lyuboslav Penev has been sacked following a string of poor results in European Championship qualifying, the latest a 1-1 home draw against Malta.
Federation president Borislav Mihailov did not name a replacement for the 48-year-old Penev, who was appointed in November 2011, but said a foreign coach was not an option.
Bulgaria's hopes of progressing from Euro 2016 qualifying Group H suffered a potentially significant blow as they were held 1-1 at home by minnows Malta in a match the hosts dominated in Sofia.
Having lost their last two games since opening with a win against Azerbaijan, Bulgaria would have been desperate for a victory and they looked on course to do that after taking an early lead through Andrey Galabinov.
However, after failing to make the most of various opportunities, Bulgaria were pegged back...