Barzagli ready to return in Italy’s defense

Italy defender Andrea Barzagli is ready to play against Ireland

after missing the opening two matches at the European Championship

with a left calf injury.

Barzagli says he could play on the left or right of center back

Daniele De Rossi in coach Cesare Prandelli’s new three-man defense.

He’ll likely replace Leonardo Bonucci on the right.

Barzagli was injured in a pre-tournament friendly loss to

Russia.

Coach Cesare Prandelli brought in Cagliari defender Davide

Astori as a possible substitute before the opening match with

Spain, then released Astori after medical exams showed Barzagli had

a chance of returning for the third Group C game against

Ireland.

Italy needs to beat Ireland and hope for help from Spain and

Croatia to advance.