Rio de Janeiro: Mario Balotelli could miss Italy`s opening match of the Confederations Cup against Mexico Sunday after suffering a thigh injury while training.
Italy team doctor Enrico Castellacci said medical staff would carefully monitor the 22-year-old Saturday before making a decision on his fitness.
"He felt pain and was taken off. I think he will be able to play but we can`t make any guarantees because the players have not had a break after a long and arduous season," Castellacci said.
Balotelli`s absence would leave Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli needing to decide between Stephan El Shaarawy, Alberto Gilardino and Sebastian Giovincoand Alessio Cerci as the AC Milan striker`s replacement.
"Mario is our principal striker and is feared by our rivals but we also have other forwards who are able to contribute," Italy defender Andrea Barzagli said.
Both Italy and Mexico will train at the Maracana Stadium Saturday. Organisers said Sunday`s match had already sold more than 60,000 tickets.