Herniated Disc Further Threatens 2010 World Cup For Italy's Gianluigi Buffon

Calgiari's Federico Marchetti is moving closer to being Italy's goalkeeper for the rest of the tournament after first string `keeper Gianluigi Buffon, removed at halftime of Monday's match against Paraguay, has been diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back.

Buffon now seems set to missed at least group stage after the diagnosis but remains with the team at their training camp in Pretoria with the hopes that the condition will improve at some point this tournament.

Italy's medical staff, led by team doctor Enrico Castellacci, refused to put a definite time frame on Buffon's recovery but expressed pessimism:

"We're not talking about a time period and it's obvious it won't be short but it's difficult at this stage to put a definite period on the recovery," Castellacci said. "It's not a new problem, it's a little recurrence of a problem he's had in the past.

"He's an important player for the group and he's staying with us so we can try to get him back, not just to lend moral support. It's a small disc, which is a positive thing but it's not just about recovering from the pain. We're talking about an athletic recovery."

Italy's remaining group stage matches are against New Zealand then Slovakia.

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