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Parma FC will be without defenders Damiano Ferronetti and Cesare Bovo for the first leg of their UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie against VfB Stuttgart on Wednesday, but in-form striker Alberto Gilardino believes the Italian team can still progress.
Bovo dislocated his right shoulder during the 2-1 Serie A defeat by ACF Fiorentina on Sunday and is likely to be out for seven days, so could be in contention for the second leg in Germany. Ferronetti is recovering from a minor thigh injury. The Fiorentina result left Parma in 18th place, and the game against Stuttgart is followed by a vital match against fellow relegation strugglers Brescia Calcio on Sunday.
Coach Pietro Carmignani is expected to rotate his players, with Luca Bucci replacing Sébastien Frey in goal, while Gilardino, who has scored five times in his last seven games, should start on the bench.
Stuttgart will be shorn of internationals Kevin Kuranyi (groin) and Andreas Hinkel (influenza) while coach Matthias Sammer also misses long-term absentees Philipp Lahm and Marco Streller. Left-back Lahm has a stress fracture; Streller is recovering from a double fracture to his shinbone and fibula.
Sammer still optimistic
Despite the absences, Sammer remains optimistic about the tie - if highly respectful of Parma: "We want to win, but this will be a hard task. Their defence is very good and they seem a compact team. It is a joke that they are fighting against relegation in their league."
Stuttgart may start with only one striker, the Brazilian Cacau replacing Kuranyi, while former international Markus Babbel could reinforce the back line. "We need to be prepared for Gilardino. He is an excellent player," added Sammer.
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