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COVID forces Italy into fieldi...
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COVID forces Italy into fielding U20 side for Euro qualifier with Ireland

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) have confirmed that their Under-20 squad will fulfil Tuesday's U21 European Championship qualifier with the Republic of Ireland.

The Italian U21 squad has been struck by a number of COVID-19 cases in recent days.

Their game with Iceland on Friday was postponed after two players and a staff member tested positive, and the squad was placed in quarantine.

The FIGC confirmed on Sunday that three more players had tested positive after returning to their base in Tirrenia.

On Monday afternoon, the Italian federation revealed that their U20 squad will play Jim Crawford's Ireland side in Pisa.

They say Alberto Bollini's side have been in training camp in Florence since Wednesday October 7, and have undergone two rounds of coronavirus testing - all returning negative.

Victory on Tuesday could go a long way towards Ireland qualifying for a first ever major championships at U21 level. They top Group 1 on 16-points, three clear of the Italians who have a game-in-hand.

U21 European Championship qualifying - Group 1 standings (UEFA)

Ireland have been continuing their preparations in Italy since the weekend, with Crawford saying, "We have kept an eye on what has been going on and we will be as prepared as we can be for the game.

"Our staff has been working hard to provide us with as much information as possible as we can get on the Italian team."

The Azzurini aren't completely under-strength. They've been able to add U21 players Patrick Cutrone (Fiorentina), Samuele Ricci (Empoli), Riccardo Sottil (Cagliari) and Sandro Tonali (AC Milan) to the U20 panel.

Italy U21 coach Paolo Nicolato apologised for the situation, saying, "We have traveled every possible path in a very complex situation.

"I am proud of my staff and my players, their behaviour and their sense of responsibility gratify me much more than a victory."

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Coronavirus Covid-19 European Championships FIGC Ireland Italia Italy Jim Crawford Republic Of Ireland Republic Of Ireland U21 U20 U21

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