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Italy aim to increase Group C lead

Italy host Estonia looking to extend their five-point gap at the top of the standings while second-placed Slovenia travel to the Faroe Islands in the latest round of Group C games.

Cesare Prandelli's Italy side take on Estonia on Friday
Cesare Prandelli's Italy side take on Estonia on Friday ©Getty Images

Pushed all the way by Estonia in a winning cause in September, Italy know they face a tough test when Tarmo Rüütli's men visit Modena on 3 June. The Group C leaders can extend their five-point advantage if Slovenia fail to overcome a resilient Faroe Islands side in Toftir. The Faroes host Estonia four days later looking to avenge August's defeat in Tallinn. UEFA.com rounds up the team news.

3 June: Faroe Islands v Slovenia, Italy v Estonia
7 June: Faroe Islands v Estonia

Latest standings

Andrea Pirlo is included in Cesare Prandelli's 25-man squad for the encounter against Estonia and the friendly versus the Republic of Ireland four days later. Playmaker Pirlo, just signed by Juventus on a free transfer from AC Milan, has not played for Italy since a 1-1 friendly draw with Romania in November. Manchester City FC striker Mario Balotelli was also called up having been absent for the same period, but has been forced to withdraw due to a knee injury. There are no fresh faces in the party.

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (US Città di Palermo), Emiliano Viviano (Bologna FC).

Defenders: Davide Astori (Cagliari Calcio), Federico Balzaretti (US Città di Palermo), Mattia Cassani (US Città di Palermo), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Genoa CFC), Alessandro Gamberini (ACF Fiorentina), Christian Maggio (SSC Napoli), Andrea Ranocchia (FC Internazionale Milano).

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (ACF Fiorentina), Thiago Motta (FC Internazionale Milano), Antonio Nocerino (US Città di Palermo), Angelo Palombo (UC Sampdoria), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City FC), Antonio Cassano (AC Milan), Alberto Gilardino (ACF Fiorentina), Sebastian Giovinco (Parma FC), Alessandro Matri (Juventus), Giampaolo Pazzini (FC Internazionale Milano), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal CF).

Coach Matjaž Kek has opted for a tried-and-trusted 22-man selection as Slovenia bid to consolidate second place in the section. There are no new call-ups while injury doubts Milivoje Novakovič, Bojan Jokič and Tim Matavž have recovered in time to travel to the Faroe Islands.

Goalkeepers: Samir Handanovič (Udinese Calcio), Jasmin Handanovič (Empoli FC), Vid Belec (FC Crotone).

Mišo Brečko (1. FC Köln), Boštjan Cesar (AC Chievo Verona), Branko Ilič (FC Lokomotiv Moskva), Bojan Jokič (AC Chievo Verona), Matej Mavrič (Kapfenberger SV), Marko Šuler (KAA Gent), Mitja Viler (NK Maribor).

Armin Bačinovič (US Città di Palermo), Valter Birsa (AJ Auxerre), Josip Iličič (US Città di Palermo), Andraž Kirm (Wisła Kraków), Robert Koren (Hull City AFC), Aleksander Radosavljevič (ADO Den Haag), Dare Vršič (NK Olimpija Ljubljana).

Zlatko Dedič (VfL Bochum 1848), Zlatan Ljubijankič (KAA Gent), Milivoje Novakovič (1. FC Köln), Tim Matavž (FC Groningen), Nejc Pečnik (FC Krylya Sovetov Samara).

Tarmo Rüütli is without key midfielder Aleksandr Dmitrijev and qualifying top scorer Konstantin Vassiljev for the Italy trip. Dmitrijev's injury also rules him out against the Faroe Islands, when Vassiljev will return from suspension. Andres Oper and Andrei Sidorenkov are sidelined with injuries while Taijo Teniste and Sergei Mošnikov can win their first caps as fourth-placed Estonia chase victories to put them back in qualifying contention.

Goalkeepers: Sergei Pareiko (Wisła Kraków), Pavel Londak (Bucaspor).

Defenders: Alo Bärengrub (JK Nõmme Kalju), Enar Jääger (Aalesunds FK), Gert Kams (FC Flora Tallinn), Raio Piiroja (Fredrikstad FK), Taavi Rähn (Tianjin Songjiang FC), Andrei Stepanov (FC Gomel), Taijo Teniste (FC Levadia Tallinn).

Midfielders: Tarmo Kink (Middlesbrough FC), Ragnar Klavan (AZ Alkmaar), Dmitri Kruglov (İnter Bakı PİK), Sergei Mošnikov (FC Flora Tallinn), Sander Puri (Korona Kielce), Konstantin Vassiljev (FC Koper), Aleksandr Dmitrijev (FC Ural Ekaterinburg), Martin Vunk (Nea Salamis FC).

Forwards: Jarmo Ahjupera (Újpest FC), Kaimar Saag (Silkeborg IF), Sergei Zenjov (FC Karpaty Lviv).

Faroe Islands
Boss Brian Kerr brings goalkeeper Jákup Mikkelsen out of international retirement for a second time in the injury absence of Gunnar Nielsen; the 40-year-old retired at the end of 2009 but came back for two qualifiers last year. Midfielder Atli Danielsen also returns after time out from national-team football due to studying commitments. Kerr said: "Slovenia will be very difficult, but nonetheless I think in Toftir we can upset anybody. The same goes when we play Estonia."

Goalkeepers: Jákup Mikkelsen (ÍF Fuglafjørdur), René Tórgard (EB/Streymur).

Defenders: Einar Hansen (NSÍ Runavík), Atli Gregersen (Víkingur), Jónas Tór Næs (Valur), Pól Justinussen (Valur Reykjavík), Jóhan Davidsen (Aarhus Fremad), Viljormur Davidsen (FC Fyn), Rógvi Baldvinsson (Ålgård FK), Høgni Eysturoy (B36 Tórshavn).

Midfielders: Fródi Benjaminsen (HB Tórshavn), Hallur Hansson (HB Tórshavn), Bogi Løkin (ÍF Fuglafjørdur), Símun Samuelsen (HB Tórshavn), Daniel Udsen (EB/Streymur), Hjalgrím Elttør (KÍ Klaksvík), Atli Danielsen (FC Roskilde), Súni Olsen (B36 Tórshavn).

Forwards: Jóan Edmundsson (Newcastle United FC), Christian Lamhauge Holst (Silkeborg IF), Arnbjørn Hansen (EB/Streymur), Christian Mouritsen (Valur Reykjavík).

Players in italics have withdrawn.
*Denotes replacement player/late addition.
**Denotes player addition after first qualifier.

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