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Conte to start Sirigu over Buffon

Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte confirmed Salvatore Sirigu will start in goal for his first match in charge of Italy when they take on the Netherlands in Bari.

Conte confirmed he has opted against playing his skipper Gianluigi Buffon against the Dutch, but he is seemingly resting his former club comrade at Juventus for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway on Tuesday.

The 45-year-old also said forward Stephan El Shaarawy was carrying a niggle, but he was not yet ruled out of the clash with the World Cup semi-finalists.

"Stephan has got a small issue, one that has troubled him since the game on Sunday," Conte said on Wednesday.

"We're waiting to verify his condition and we will think hard about using him without making reckless choices.

"Aside from that, the starting XI is very clear in my head. We will start Sirigu instead of Buffon in goal.

"The others ... you'll see them when they enter the pitch. It's our first game, I'm only trying to do my best."

Conte said he was not too fussed on the result of his first match in charge, and did point out one of his predecessors Marcello Lippi lost his first match in charge before delivering a major trophy within two years.

"I've read that only three of the last 11 Italy managers have debuted with a win, I hope that I am going to be the fourth," he said.

"No one likes to lose, even if it's just once.

"Under Mr Lippi, a first defeat brought our fourth World Cup 24 months later.

"We will try to start on the right foot.

"It's a friendly against a very strong side, third at the latest World Cup, and a team that is very well established and experienced.

"We are eager to do well, and eager to show that this group can do great things, that's the most important thing for me."

Buffon was praising Conte in the days leading up to his bow as national boss, and the coach said he was grateful for the custodian's support - despite leaving out his skipper for his first match.

"I hope not to prove him wrong. Hearing the words of our captain, of an ex-teammate, of my ex-player at club level, is wonderful," Conte said.

"The results of the national team will depend a great deal on elements like Buffon, [Daniele] De Rossi, [Giorgio] Chiellini, [Andrea] Barzagli and [Andrea] Pirlo, people who still have a lot to give and can take the younger players by the hand."

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