Conflicting Reports Cast Doubt On Italy Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon's Remaining World Cup 2010

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was substituted off at halftime of Italy's 1-1 draw with Paraguay on Monday.  Twenty-four hours later, conflicting reports cast little light on whether one of the world's best goalkeepers will return for the Azzurri's next match against New Zealand.

The player, which is reported to have a sciatic nerve problem in his lower back, claims he will return within days, though the team doctor has taken a more measured tone:

It leaves him in doubt for the remainder of the World Cup, although the ever-optimistic Buffon claims he'll be fit again "in two days.''

Italy's team doctor Enrico Castellacci said Buffon would have medical tests Tuesday to determine the extent of his injuries.

"The exams will determine what to do and what type of therapy will be required and then we can sketch a recovery plan,'' Castellacci said.

As always, Buffon believes anything is possible, including a recovery for Sunday's second Group F game against New Zealand. "I'm hoping to recover in two days,'' he said.

Today, however, the FIGC (Italian football federation) released a statement saying the nature of the back injury precluded putting a date on the goalkeeper's return.

Elsewhere, both Buffon and Castellacci have confirmed that the goalkeeper was symptomatic for a flare-up of the injury during warm-ups, and the team medical staff had suggested then that Buffon not start against Paraguay:

"The coach subbed me because I had problems in my leg," the Juventus goalkeeper revealed.

"I was not very good during the warm-up, my leg was hurting.

"The doctor suggested before the match that I was replaced for one of the other goalkeepers.

"I hope this injury will be better when we play New Zealand."

Team doctor Castellacci said after the match: "It's a sciatic nerve problem he felt during the warm-up. He couldn't really go and play.

"On Tuesday morning we will decide what we have to do with him. We will look at exams and therapies needed for this injury.

"We don't know the number of days he will be out for. We need to look at what special medical machinery we need for this kind of injury."

Italy play their next match against New Zealand on Sunday, June 20.

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