Boost for Ireland as Italy star ruled out of Euro 2016
Ireland's Euro 2016 hopes have increased slightly with the news that Italy's PSG midfielder Marco Verratti has been ruled out of the tournament with a groin injury.
Verratti is just 23 but has established himself as a regular at both club and international level, making five appearances for his country in 2015. Italy struggled for goals in their qualifying campaign and will find it even more difficult to break down opposing teams after losing their livewire midfielder.
PSG confirmed on their Twitter account that Verratti's injury is serious enough to require surgery.
Italy have been drawn alongside Ireland in Group E, with Sweden and Belgium completing the four-team group.
Ireland face Sweden first up in Paris on June 13th, before travelling to Bordeaux to take on Belgium on the 18th and finishing their group phase against the Italians in Lille on the 22nd.