DUISBURG, Germany, June 27 (Reuters) - Italy's injured central defender Alessandro Nesta is very doubtful for Friday's World Cup quarter-final against Ukraine.
Nesta missed Monday's 1-0 victory over Australia after a troublesome groin injury flared up in the final group match against Czech Republic and team doctor Enrico Castellacci said he was unlikely to be fit to face the Ukrainians in Hamburg.
'It won't be easy,' Castellacci told reporters, 'He is following our programme and is improving but it is gradual. We said we would try and get him back as quickly as possible but we want to avoid any other problems for the lad,' he said.
Italy coach Marcello Lippi has limited options in defence given that Nesta's replacement Marco Materazzi is suspended for the quarter-final following his red card against Australia.
Palermo defender Andrea Barzagli, who came on as a substitute against Australia, will almost certainly partner captain Fabio Cannavaro in the centre of defence.
Lippi has no other recognised central defender in his squad.
Castellacci said the Azzurri had no other players were in doubt for the game against Ukraine in Hamburg.