Ricardo Montolivo has been ruled out of the World Cup after suffering a horror injury during Italy’s goalless draw against Republic of Ireland in the Azzurris’ pre World Cup preparations.

The AC Milan captain had to be taken off after just eight minutes as a James Pearce challenge on the player left the player writhing in pain. It was agony for Cesar Prandelli’s side and Enrico Castellacci, Italy’s chief of medical staff speaking to Italian television after the match said, “He has a fracture of the tibia,” the medic said. “I’m waiting to see the radio graphical results before assessing everything, but more or less every tibia fracture needs surgery. “There will be no World Cup for Montolivo, I’m so sorry for the boy. He will probably need around two months out.”  

Prandelli too was shocked with the news, “This was a game dominated by our injuries. We all suffered a terrible psychological blow after Montolivo’s injury.”

Gianluigi Buffon was rested although his deputy Salvatore Sirigu did a superb job of thwarting several Ireland shots.

‘He was the biggest positive for me. Ireland were  boisterous opponents committed to every tackle. Norwich’s Anthony Pilkington exposed frailties in the Italian defense, getting the better of Mattia De Sciglio on several occasions.

‘I thought we played very well,’ said manager Martin O’Neill. ‘Italy started off well but I thought we could have scored a few goals. When I heard there was going to be 20,000 people here, I realized nobody was taking this as a friendly. It was very competitive from start to finish.’