Young AS Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani was handed the onerous responsibility of replacing the suspended Andrea Pirlo for Italy’s Euro 2008 quarter-final with Spain later on Sunday (kick-off 1845GMT).
The 23-year-old will win only his seventh cap after Italy coach Roberto Donadoni told RAI TV that he would start while AC Milan’s Massimo Ambrosini is favourite to replace clubmate Gennaro Gattuso, who is also suspended.
“Aquilani is alreay used to important matches,” 44-year-old Donadoni said.
“I expect him to give the best of himself, like all the other players.”
Luciano Spalletti, Aquilani’s club coach, had gone in to bat for his player on Saturday telling Donadoni to select him, despite Spalletti having used him sparingly last season when it came to important matches.
Aquilani has played just eight minutes in the whole tournament, in the 2-0 win over France which sealed Italy’s place in the quarter-finals as Romania lost 2-0 to Group winners Holland.
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