Italy midfielder Verratti ruled out of crucial Croatia game

Marco Verratti strained a thigh muscle during a training session with the Italy squad ahead of the Croatia game.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti has left Italy’s training camp due a left thigh muscle injury, ruling him out of Sunday’s key European Championship qualifier against Croatia.

No immediate replacement was called up by Italy coach Antonio Conte, who already had injury problems in midfield.

Passing wizard Andrea Pirlo is also out with an injured left thigh and Riccardo Montolivo has still not returned from left leg surgery.

Daniele De Rossi and Claudio Marchisio are likely starters, with Milan’s Giacomo Bonaventura and Lazio’s Antonio Candreva among the other possibilities.

Italy and Croatia each have a perfect nine points atop Group H entering the game at Milan’s San Siro stadium.

Italy then hosts Albania in a friendly in Genoa two days later.