Alessandro Bastoni, Davide Calabria and Cristiano Biraghi have all withdrawn from the Italy squad ahead of their crunch World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland. 

Inter defender Bastoni had been struggling for fitness and will not travel to Belfast for Monday's game, with Calabria experiencing a calf problem on Saturday and Biraghi dropping out for personal reasons.

To bolster his defensive options, with veteran centre-back Giorgio Chiellini having left the camp ahead of Friday's 1-1 draw with Switzerland, Roberto Mancini called up Davide Zappacosta. 

Italy sit top of Group C on goal difference so only need to match Switzerland's result at home to Bulgaria when they take on Northern Ireland in order to clinch top spot. 

A draw would have been enough had Jorginho converted a 90th-minute penalty against Switzerland on Friday, but the Chelsea midfielder missed his third successive spot-kick (including shoot-outs) for the Azzurri. 

Italy have won seven of their 10 matches against Northern Ireland, who have been scoreless in the past six and secured their only victory in a World Cup qualifier back in January 1958.

However, the last meeting between the pair in Northern Ireland was a goalless draw at Windsor Park in October 2010.

Davide Calabria fired a warning to Milan as he declared Wednesday's clash with Porto to be their last chance of staying in the Champions League.

The Rossoneri are bottom of Group B, having lost all three of their matches against Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Porto, and are on a five-game losing streak overall in the competition – the worst such run in their history.

Should they lose to Sergio Conceicao's side at San Siro and Atletico beat Liverpool at Anfield, Milan will be unable to finish higher than fourth in the group, meaning their European campaign would be over for 2021-22.

While their domestic form has been strong – they have won 10 of 11 Serie A matches this season, something only three teams have achieved before – Milan were deeply unconvincing in the reverse match against Porto, registering only four shots, their lowest such figure in a Champions League game in almost eight years.

Calabria feels Milan deserve to have at least some points from the first three matchdays but accepts a win is now essential to their chances of going through.

"We have an outlook prepared; it's our last chance to stay in the Champions League," the defender said on Tuesday. "We believe in ourselves and we have the quality to put in a great performance right from kick-off and stay in the competition.

"Certain moments have led to the current standings. We don't deserve it but I am convinced that we have the potential to do better and take points, starting from tomorrow.

"The Champions League is a competition that comes down to the finer details and some of the details have gone against us. It's a shame because we deserve more but there's not much to say. We've been decent in the group until now, except for the game in Portugal."

Milan come into the match buoyed by Sunday's 2-1 league win at Roma, a result that ended Jose Mourinho's 43-game unbeaten home run in Serie A.

The match was not without controversy, though. Referee Fabio Maresca was criticised for his performance, as was VAR, with Mourinho walking away from a post-match interview with DAZN after claiming he feared a touchline ban if he spoke about the officials.

Milan boss Stefano Pioli insisted he and his team cannot become distracted by a growing debate over the standard of officiating in Italy.

"I believe one thing: we beat Roma because we were the better team and lost against Porto because they were better than us," Pioli said. "I can't control anything else.

"We're just going to keep our focus on what we are doing. We analysed the performance with the players and we know what we did well. We can't waste our energy on external factors.

"Now, we are thinking about the Champions League because we feel like we deserve more than zero points in the table and we have this game to confirm that – against a really tough side."

Milan moved to the Serie A summit as Ismael Bennacer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck late to hand them a pulsating 4-2 win over nine-man Bologna.

Rafael Leao and Davide Calabria scored either side of Adama Soumaoro's dismissal to give the Rossoneri a healthy advantage at the interval.

That was wiped out in the space of seven minutes at the start of the second period, however, with an Ibrahimovic own goal and a Musa Barrow strike restoring parity at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.

Bologna had a second man sent off before the hour mark, Roberto Soriano given a straight red card for a late challenge, and Stefano Pioli's Milan landed a memorable three points thanks to fine late strikes from Bennacer and Ibrahimovic.

Leao put Milan ahead in the 16th minute with a deflected strike, before Soumaoro was shown a red card for bringing down a clean-through Rade Krunic just outside the area four minutes later.

Milan took advantage of their numerical superiority in the 35th minute, Calabria lashing home a second from 15 yards.

The hosts stormed back at the start of the second period, though, with Ibrahimovic – making his first start since May 9 – heading into his own net four minutes after the interval to give Sinisa Mihajlovic's side hope.

Barrow then remarkably drew Bologna level in the 52nd minute, slotting past Ciprian Tatarusanu after being played in by Soriano.

Rossoblu captain Soriano was then given his marching orders after a VAR review six minutes later for an ugly challenge on Fode Ballo-Toure.

The hosts held firm until the 84th minute when Bennacer powered into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards, while Ibrahimovic added gloss to the scoreline with a whipped finish from the same distance six minutes later.

Milan have handed defender Davide Calabria a new four-year contract.

Calabria has spent over six years in Milan's first team, making 151 appearances, and has now extended his stay until 2025.

The 24-year-old only had one year left on his previous contract, meaning the new deal is a three-year extension.

Academy product Calabria played 32 Serie A games last season, 30 of which were starts, with both of those figures being career highs.

"AC Milan is delighted to announce the contract extension of Davide Calabria until June 30th 2025," the club said in a statement on Friday.

 

Stefano Pioli's men finished second in Serie A last season and have already had a busy transfer market.

They completed the signing of Sandro Tonali on a five-year deal from Brescia on Thursday, the midfielder having spent last season on loan with the Rossoneri.

Pioli has urged the club to strengthen his squad if they are to be a force next season and insisted Franck Kessie is happy at San Siro amid speculation over his future.

He is hoping not to lose any more stars after Gianluigi Donnarumma departed at the end of his contract and Hakan Calhanoglu joined city rivals Inter in a surprise move.

In the other direction, Fikayo Tomori returned to San Siro in a permanent deal from Chelsea and Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan replaced Italy international Donnarumma.

Davide Calabria should be fit to return for next season after undergoing surgery on a sports hernia, Milan have confirmed.

The full-back has not been included in Italy's provisional squad for Euro 2020, so his season was already over after helping Milan qualify for the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Atalanta on Sunday.

Calabria played 36 times across all competitions for Milan in 2020-21, scoring twice and providing one assist from 26 chances created, while also helping Stefano Pioli's team keep 11 clean sheets.

The 24-year-old may well feel hard done by to have missed out on Roberto Mancini's 33-man selection, which will be cut to 26 by the deadline of midnight on June 1.

His numbers stack up well when compared to the three right-backs included in Mancini's squad – Alessandro Florenzi, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Manuel Lazzari.

Napoli's Di Lorenzo is the be standout option from an attacking perspective, having scored four goals and teed up a further seven in all competitions, with his 62 chances created far better than the efforts Calabria, Florenzi or Lazzari (both 28).

Defensively, however, Calabria seems to the outstanding candidate. He attempted 105 tackles, 10 more than Di Lorenzo and far ahead of Florenzi (38), who spent the season on loan at Paris Saint-Germain, and Lazio wing-back Lazzari (29), with an impressive 61.9 per cent success rate. 

Calabria went into 333 duels, winning 200 – more than either Florenzi or Lazzari – and he won 32 of his 62 aerial battles, with Di Lorenzo bettering the Milan man for interceptions (47, compared to 41).

He did attempt fewer open-play crosses (78) than any of his counterparts, with only 21 of them finding a team-mate, although Calabria's tally of 130 passes into the final third was second only to Di Lorenzo (153).

Nevertheless, Calabria's focus will now be on Milan's 2021-22 campaign, with the club confirming a planned recovery time of six weeks.

A Milan statement read: "The operation, performed by videolaparoscopy by Dr Giuseppe Sansonetti in the presence of Rossoneri doctor Lucio Genesio, was perfectly successful."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.